my boss sits outside my house for hours, parking woes, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss sits outside my house in her car for hours

Due to health reasons, I have been working remotely during the pandemic. I’m grateful to have the type of job where this is possible, and I appreciate my boss’s flexibility.

But my boss knows where I live. I have the type of job where occasionally — and on a fixed schedule — I have to look at physical paperwork that my boss reviews before I do. She insists on dropping it off at my house, but instead of a simple handoff, she prefers to review the papers in real time outside my house, sitting in her car for hours directly outside my window. I’m not exaggerating: she camps out there for hours, in plain view of my living room, which also currently serves as my office space. I feel like she’s watching me, or doesn’t trust that I’m really home and really doing my work. The whole thing makes me incredibly uncomfortable. It also makes my husband (another remote worker) even more uncomfortable. I have offered to come pick up the paperwork myself at the office and meet her outside for a quick, masked handoff, but she won’t read between the lines. I think she believes she’s being helpful by bringing it my way. In theory, that’s true. In practice? Not so much.

How do I let her know that I would prefer she not sit outside my house like this? How can I tactfully insist that I go pick up these documents myself? It’s worth noting that I would already be back at work if she mandated masks and other COVID-safe protocols within the office. She doesn’t.

So she needs to review the papers before passing them to you and instead of reviewing them before she heads to your house, she drives to you, spends hours in her car reviewing them, and then brings them to your door? That is … odd.

I would take the easy way out on this and just blame it on neighbors — as in, “We’ve had neighbors tell us they feel uncomfortable having someone sit in a car outside their houses for hours, so I’m going to need to start picking the paperwork up from you. What time is good on Tuesday for me to grab it from you?” Don’t make it a discussion; it’s just an announcement — “this won’t work anymore, we’ll need to do this other thing instead, let’s set a time.”

2. Do hiring managers have to conduct a certain number of phone interviews?

Do hiring managers often have a certain number of phone interviews they’re required to conduct or schedule?

An organization headhunted me a while ago and set up a Zoom interview for 6 a.m. the next day. It was weirdly early but I would have been okay with that, except that they rushed through the interview. They spoke to me for about five minutes and only asked a couple questions. It felt like something they were doing to check a box. The interviewer was driving during the call, so her camera was off. Meanwhile, I felt all dressed up with nowhere to go. I never heard back from them, despite the fact that they were the ones to seek me out and I was perfectly polite and professional during the call. I even sent a thank-you email, but got no reply.

A couple days ago, I had another phone interview scheduled with a different organization. I had applied for this position without being headhunted, but the hiring manager had seemed very eager to set up the interview. Once again, the process of setting up the interview seemed a bit rushed – all the time slots I was given to choose between were within the next few days, despite the fact that the job isn’t available for several months. Well, the manager never called during the scheduled time. I left a voicemail after about 45 minutes, but I don’t think I’m going to hear back.

Why would employers be setting up interviews in which they have very little interest? It’s rude and I’m confused as to the purpose!

Sometimes hiring people do have a certain number of interviews they want to set up, which could be imposed from above or could just be their own preference.

But what’s more frequent is that there’s an enormous lack of consideration for candidates in many hiring processes. It’s incredibly common for interviewers not to call on time or at all for scheduled phone interviews or to be disrespectful of candidates’ time in other ways.

There are a bunch of possible explanations for the interviewer who seemed rushed and only spoke to you briefly — like that she was just a bad interviewer, or had lost interest after setting up the call (possibly because she found stronger candidates) so was giving you short shrift, or realized from one of your early answers that the fit wasn’t right, or was just having a bad morning and needed to deal with something else. Or maybe this was always intended to be a very short screening call and they hadn’t conveyed that well beforehand.

It’s not weird to want to schedule phone screens within a few days, even if the job doesn’t start for a few months. Hiring takes a long time, and it’s not odd to want to get initial screens done quickly, or the interviewer might have been booked up the following week, or who knows what. It’s also possible they would have suggested other slots if you’d told them the first set didn’t work for you. So that part isn’t weird. But a 6 a.m. phone call is ungodly early, and you definitely could have pushed back on that if you wanted to!

3. My office doesn’t give part-timers parking

For the past few years, I have worked part time at a local organization that is predominantly funded by, and is under the umbrella of our municipality. Our organization is located downtown, so there is not an abundance of parking, and we do not have our own parking lot. The full-time staff have all been given, by the city government, parking passes to a nearby parking lot, but the part-time staff have to either pay several hundred dollars a year for a parking pass in a city-owned lot, pay $1/hr at a meter that requires us to refill it every two hours, or try to nail down a few free two-hour spots, and then every two hours move our cars.

The moving of cars and paying of meters every two hours is incredibly disruptive because we then have to find a coworker to cover our desk so that customer service is not disrupted. I obviously think this is incredibly annoying, but it’s ultimately up to the city, not my organization, who also provide their full-time employees with parking passes but do not do the same for their part-time staff.

Can I ask our organization to cover the cost of all part-time staff getting parking passes from the city so that we don’t have to constantly jump through this ridiculous hoop, and if so, how should I best raise this? When I was first hired, I was shocked that this was never done; this has been the way things are done for years before I joined the organization. We are expecting possible cuts to our funding next year due to COVID-19 and we already have a pretty tight budget, so I’m worried about raising this right now, but I’m just so fed up with dealing with this issue every workday.

I had a job with a parking situation like this, where everyone who drove in had to move our cars every few hours because monthly passes for the nearby parking garages were way too expensive on nonprofit salaries. It sucked! (One colleague even made a complex spreadsheet to track parking enforcement patterns, which we all used to try to outsmart tickets.)

In any case, in a context like this parking subsidies aren’t an outrageous thing to ask for. Point out that people have to leave work every two hours to feed meters or move their cars and it causes disruption and ask if they’d be willing to subsidize parking for part-time workers so they can stop dealing with parking issues multiple times a day. The answer might be no, especially if the organization is worried about funding cuts, but it’s a reasonable thing to ask about and they might not realize it’s regularly interrupting work. (Be aware, though, that a potential risk of highlighting that they could tell you that you can’t keep running out every two hours and still not pay for parking.)

4. We have to share our professional goals with our team

My manager asked our team to share our professional goals with the team. The ask is to write these down and then have them be shared in a meeting — I’m guessing for some kind of discussion or perhaps for just team visibility.

I’m not really comfortable sharing my goals with anyone aside from my boss. Is it just me?

Are these work goals (like “increase the number of visitors our website from X to Y”) or are they your own personal goals (like “improve my writing skills” or “move into a management role”)? If it’s the former, it’s very normal to share those with your team. If it’s the latter, that’s much more unusual. And while some people would be fine with it, a not insignificant number would share your discomfort. There’s no reason your coworkers all need to know what your personal goals are, and in some ways sharing them requires you to make yourself vulnerable to people you might prefer not to be vulnerable around. And really, your personal ambitions aren’t anyone’s business (even your boss’s, for that matter, unless you choose to share them).

My guess is that your boss thinks she’s creating some sort of group accountability or learning environment, but there are better ways to do that.

If there’s room to simply offer up work goals instead, you could try that.

5. Do employers think I’m not local?

I was recently laid off and am starting to look for new jobs. I live in a tiny town about 15-20 minutes south of a state line, so many of the jobs I am applying for are just across the border in the other state. I am wondering if employers are looking at my address saying state X and thinking I am non-local when I am in fact local and don’t need to relocate— especially since the positions I am applying for are very junior and not the sort of jobs that generally entertain distance candidates. Additionally, most of my work experience is from when I was in college and living in a big city much further away, adding to this confusion. Should I leave my address off?

Well, if you’re only ~20 minutes away from the jobs you’re applying for, hiring managers are almost certainly used to getting candidates from across the state line and don’t assume you’re hundreds of miles away … but there’s no reason you need to include your full address on your resume these days and many people don’t. So go ahead and remove it and see if that helps.

Normally I do recommend that you keep at least your city and state on your resume if you’re local so employers don’t assume you’re not … but in case where you think it could be doing the opposite, it makes sense to experiment with removing it.

{ 498 comments… read them below }

      1. Firecat*

        Honestly I could see myself doing something like this. Especially if my normal workplace was loud or hectic with lots of interruptions or if I had to travel somewhere after each drop off. I could see being completely oblivious to anyone being concerned by this as I read harmlessly I’m my car in silence.

        If an employee spoke up and said – I find this weird I’d apologize, explain why I was doing it so they wouldn’t feel like I was watching them the whole time, and make a new arrangement.

        There’s no reason to flee this job over this without talking about it unless that boss has shown themselves unwilling to hear feedback.

        1. Weekend Please*

          Yep. It is definitely weird behavior, but it is possible she doesn’t realize that she is making the OP feel like she is under surveillance. Even if the goal is to make sure the OP is working, her boss may think she is being unobtrusive.

        2. Rachel Greep*

          Agree. I don’t like to eat at my desk; I need to get away during my lunch break. With our office kitchen being closed due to COVID, I often drive a few blocks over into the residential area, find a nice shade tree to park under, and eat my lunch and relax in my car, reading and listening to music.

        3. Caradom*

          But would you park directly by the window where you can view the employee for hours? All she has to do is park 1 house away….

        4. Chinook*

          Ditto. With coffee shops and in-room dining closed, there really is no public place to sit and review papers. I mean, when it is time to give DH the house to himself for a few hours (for the sake of both our sanity), I usually end up bringing a book, buying a fancy coffee and hanging out in my car on some side street (now that it is too cold to sit in the park). It may be easier for her to do it in her car and is just not making the connection that it looks like surveillance.

    1. Hali*

      Life is expensive! Don’t quit a job over something you haven’t even tried to resolve yet. That’s a teenager’s reaction, not a professional one.

    2. MassMatt*

      This is an extreme reaction to something that could be solved with curtains. Likewise, instead of making up an excuse and blaming the neighbors, maybe try talking to the boss, or again, curtains.

      Maybe the boss is intruding, maybe she just likes working in her car. Close the curtains while she’s sitting out there and ignore her.

      1. pancakes*

        Nah, Alison’s advice makes a lot more sense to me. It’s seriously weird behavior, and pretending it’s normal / not worthy of trying to put an end to would send the wrong message.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          Yes but that may vary, depending on the boss. Some bosses are well, bossy and may try to enforce their way of doing things. Luckily, the last time I had an actually bossy boss was long before COVID times.

          1. pancakes*

            We should trust the letter writer to use their judgment in raising the subject. They will have a much better sense of their own boss’s character than any of us commenters do. We nonetheless all have some sense of workplace norms, which this behavior is squarely outside of.

        2. MassMatt*

          I didn’t suggest pretending anything. Telling the boss “having you parked outside my window for hours is making me feel weird and spied upon, please stop” is direct but may go over poorly. Blaming the neighbors is an evasion, and untrue. Curtains are an easy solution.

          1. Anna Karenina*

            This doesn’t stop the behavior though, and maybe they like the sunlight? She shouldn’t have to hide from the boss.

          2. BBA*

            Yeah, OP could put up curtains. It’s winter though, at least in some parts of the world; the days are short and a lot of people have been stuck mostly at home for months now. On the days that it’s sunny, I wouldn’t want to give up my few hours of seeing sunlight just because my boss is doing something unnecessary that makes me feel uncomfortable. Just get to the root of the problem instead.

          3. biobotb*

            Curtains are also an evasion, and it could get really depressing not being able to see out one’s own windows. The view of the sky is one of the things keeping me sane while working remotely.

          4. pancakes*

            Saying that the letter is “an extreme reaction to something that could be solved with curtains” strongly suggests that the letter writer is wrong to feel uncomfortable with having their boss parked directly outside their home for hours on a daily basis. It also suggests that problem here isn’t the boss’s behavior but the letter writer’s discomfort with it. Maybe it wasn’t your intention to suggest this, maybe it was, but either way I don’t at all agree that curtains are an effective or complete solution to being uncomfortable with this situation. I also don’t agree that asking the boss to stop doing this is bound to go over badly. It’s not a normal thing for even the most authoritarian boss to do, and as many other commenters have pointed out, it’s quite possible the boss hasn’t given much (or any) thought to how it comes across. I don’t see any benefit at all to feigning comfort with this behavior. Blaming the neighbors is untrue, yes, but it doesn’t follow that it’s a bad solution. It would be a benign lie and in all likelihood a helpful one in these circumstances.

            1. RagingADHD*

              I think you got your threading mixed up. The “extreme reaction” was a reply to the comment saying “just leave.”

              Quitting your job without making any attempt to solve this would indeed be extreme.

          5. Autistic AF*

            Curtains might not be an easy solution! If OP doesn’t already have a suitable set installed, it’s not like it’s easy to go to a store and pick them out like it was pre-pandemic. It might not even be possible, depending on infection levels where OP lives.

          6. Observer*

            Blaming the neighbors is an evasion, and untrue.

            It may be an evasion, but it’s probably completely true. Anyone who notices it is going to be a bit concerned.

        3. Beckie*

          I actually don’t think it’s that weird for the boss to sit in the car to work. Due to the placement of driveways there is an extra-long stretch of curb in front of my house, and I often see people sitting there to take a call or do random work. Sort of squeezing in a half-hour of work between, say, a dentist appointment and school pick-up. Maybe this works for the boss because they have other errands that they’re running near the LW’s home.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I think that’s the difference though. It’s very common to, as you say, squeeze in a half hour somewhere in between stuff. Or for someone whose job involves home visits to have to wrap up some paperwork in the car before they move on to next. 15-20 minutes before the home visit to get squared away, or 20-30 minutes after to wrapup makes sense to me for a lot of things.
            That’s very different to me than working in the car outside of one person’s house for several hours prior to dropping of the thing you’re dropping off. The duration is part of what makes it odd.

            1. Beckie*

              But maybe this is just convenient for the boss, for various logistical and workflow reasons. I live on a busy street and this would not raise eyebrows during the day.

              1. pancakes*

                I live on a busy block in NYC, and if I recognized someone in one of the cars outside as my boss *and* saw them out there for hours each day, I would be very uncomfortable with that. It doesn’t seem like you’re taking the knowledge of who exactly is in the car into account.

      2. The Rural Juror*

        Curtains don’t necessarily fix the problem. I would be sitting in my living room worrying that my boss is judging the fact that I haven’t mowed the lawn yet, or that it’s trash day and my recycling can on the street is full and the lid won’t fully close, making a couple of wine bottles visible. It would make me anxious!

      3. Observer*

        Agreed on the curtains. Disagree on the excuse. There is very little doubt that neighbors who notice are weirded out by this. And a conversation that is clear but still deflects and softens a bit can be easier to do than one that’s more direct.

        1. Beckie*

          It depends on the neighborhood — in a sprawling suburb, maybe, but in a more condensed neighborhood this is not at all unusual activity.

        2. Caradom*

          If someone was doing this on my street, repeated loitering for hours, regularly I would be worried someone is being stalked or they are planning on burglary. Considering there are abusive victims on nearly every street my mind would jump to that option. And yes I know the boss is a woman but anyone who thinks women are not abusive really needs to read up on the area.

      4. NotJane*

        I don’t think the solution is as simple as just putting up curtains. Sure, presumably they’d keep OP from seeing her boss’s car in the driveway, but if it were me, not being able to see out my window, and wondering if she’s still out there, would be more distracting than being able to see with a quick glance that, Yup, she’s still there. I feel like I’d have a constant urge to peek out from behind the curtains to see if she’d skedaddled yet. Plus, the darkness, I would fall asleep.

        Maybe the boss does like working out of her car. If that’s what works for her, that’s cool. But certainly there are a multitude of places – other than her employee’s driveway – where she could park for several hours and get some work done.

        Why should OP – and her husband, who’s got no dog in this fight – have to go through the time and expense of installing curtains, and feel like they have to essentially hide in their own home, for hours, in order the accommodate OP’s likely just oblivious boss? It’s possible that just asking her to move it along after 10-15 minutes or so (giving her time to get organized, maybe check email, etc.) will solve the problem. If not, curtains might end up being the solution, but I wouldn’t start there.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      It’s weird, weird, weird, and I can see why the OP is alarmed by it (I would be too), but it doesn’t sound as though the supervisor is dangerous or anything. Just clueless – and oddly fond of sitting in her car.

      I don’t see any downside to attempting to fix it before considering more extreme measures.

      1. Former prof*

        I’m wondering if the manager would rather not be working in the office during COVID but doesn’t have the health exemption that the LW has. So she uses these drives as an opportunity to get out.

        1. Observer*

          Well, the manager actually has some power there, as the OP says that it’s the manager who is refusing to enforce covid rules.

          In fact, I’d be willing to be that the REAL reason the manager is sitting in the car is because they want to be able to see into the OP’s living room to “make sure” that the OP is “really working.”

          That’s why I think that worst case, curtains might work.

          1. KayDeeAye*

            Nothing wrong with curtains, but I just don’t think this is the reason the boss is sitting in her car. If it were, why would she do it so openly? If it’s a trap, it’s an extremely clumsy one, and the chances of it ever being even a bit effective are extremely low.

            I think she just likes sitting in her car. I have no idea why, but I’ve had bosses and coworkers with weirder eccentricities.

            1. Observer*

              It’s quite possible that the boss wants it to be known that’s she “on to” the OP.

              As Caradom notes, the boss could literally just park a few feet away and the OP would not feel like they are being watched.

              1. KayDeeAye*

                It’s possible, of course, but it just doesn’t seem likely to me. For one thing, there are lots of ways to signal “I am a control freak who is just waiting for you to demonstrate that you’re not working” that don’t involve sitting in a car for hours at a time and that would, in fact, be a lot more effective.

                But unlike us, the OP knows their own boss, so they will be the best judge of whether this is a possibility. It really does sound to me, though, as though the boss is comfortable enough and clueless enough to think this is a workable solution. Maybe from her point of view, it’s just like she and the OP are in adjoining cubicles?

                1. NotJane*

                  I got the same read of things that you did. My guess is that the boss gets back in her car, starts checking email, maybe getting organized, stuff like that, and just gets focused on work stuff and loses track of time. Or doesn’t lose track of time, but doesn’t see a problem with posting up in OP’s driveway for several hours.

                  Which I do think is really weird, and I get why OP is sketched out, even if I don’t get the sense that OP’s boss is spying on her. I wouldn’t want anyone – let alone my boss – sitting in my driveway for hours, either.

                2. Observer*

                  I’m not going to say that this IS for sure what the boss is doing. But it’s making the OP uncomfortable which is one clue. The other thing is that we know that the boss is doing this BEFORE the hand off. So it’s not that the boss got into her car, decided to check email and got distracted. The boss scheduled it this way.

                3. KayDeeAye*

                  It would make me uncomfortable even if I knew for an absolute fact that the boss does this simply because she likes to work in her car. It’s an uncomfortable thing, having someone sitting in a car right outside your house, and it doesn’t take maliciousness to make it uncomfortable.

                  Example: I had a H/C technician out to check on our furnace this fall, and after he got done, he sat in the driveway for a good 10 minutes updating paperwork, finding out where he was going next, etc. He was a perfectly nice man, very professional, and I’ve had many H/C technicians over the years and they have invariably done this. This is simply how it works in the H/C world. But even so, it is for me a little – just a little – uncomfortable to have someone parked in my driveway, even for 10 minutes.

                  Unless the OP has reason to think otherwise, I think the best approach is to assume that the boss doesn’t mean anything bad by this habit and simply ask her if she could park elsewhere. Alison has provided some possible scripts.

              2. Yorick*

                If it happened one time, that might be a likely move from a passive aggressive boss. But since it’s happening a lot, it’s probably just that she has to bring them, so she thinks “I’ll drive over and review them and then give them to OP.” She also probably underestimates how long she’ll be sitting there and hasn’t realized it seems weird to others.

          2. Caradom*

            Exactly, the manager could park a few metres away so she is not viewing her employee through the window for hours.

    4. AKchic*

      Naw. I’m socially awkward and would assume I’m doing my employee/coworker a favor, while also saving fuel/mileage and time. I don’t always consider all of the optics when I’m considering how it will save *me* certain factors (especially time/money).

      Until I remember the NextDoor app. *mutters darkly about neighbors who do nothing but complain about each other*
      And remember that other people may not like me hovering. And really, sitting in my car like that is bad for my back.

      It sucks that there are no coffee shops available, but speaking up that the supervisor can’t park in front of LW1’s house anymore is truly the first option here. Blaming it on the neighbors is also the easiest “out”. Because there will always be a nosy neighbor. It’s like a cosmic law (or ten).

      1. Caradom*

        The boos could park one car distance away and not view the OP through the window for hours. She is choosing not to do that.

        1. AKchic*

          Boss certainly can. I’m assuming the boss isn’t thinking about any of that. But to go straight to “leave your job over this issue” is overkill. Talk to the boss first. It might solve everything. Boss may not realize there’s any problem whatsoever because boss is focused on something else and has zoomed in on “doing it this way saves X, Y and/or Z”.

        2. Yorick*

          But if she’s not looking at the window, she wouldn’t have realized that it seems weird to be close to it.

    5. Boop*

      Oy vay. I understand the impulse to jump to this recommendation (as often is the case here), but this truly is not always an option. Unless OP states that they can leave the job, I don’t think it’s constructive to assume.

      This is actually the primary reason I’m hesitant to submit questions to AAM. I live in a somewhat remote area with limited employment opportunities – the closest employers that have need for my function are ~1 hour away (each way) and pay ~$30k/yr less. I knew this when I accepted my job and moved out here, and to me that limitation is worth it for the increased quality of life I have in the area. However, it does mean that unless I am truly 100% miserable or get fired – I have to make it work with my employer.

      Obviously that’s a very specific scenario, but point being – there are many reasons this might not be an option and I just wish this was taken into account more. I rarely even comment because the last time I brought this up I got a slew of replies all along the lines of ‘wElL yOu MaDe ThAt ChOiCe, YoU sHoUlDn’T hAvE mOvEd To A rEmOtE aReA’, or my personal favorite ‘you should move’. Like gee thanks, that’s so helpful.

  1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    Responding to #1:

    “[My boss sits] in her car for hours directly outside my window”

    Doesn’t she have other work to do?

    Do her bosses know about this? Surely this can’t be the most efficient use of her time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My bet is small business, weirdly run.

      I was trying to think of ways this could make sense in her own mind, and all I came up with was maybe she drives around a lot for her job so this actually does feel more efficient, if the alternative would be going to an office she wouldn’t otherwise go to that day? That’s all I’ve got.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Maybe, the boss gets interrupted too much in the office and this is her way of getting uninterrupted time?

        1. staceyizme*

          This is where my brain would head- a safe, quiet space where she can work. Maybe it’s the least distracting of the available alternatives. In any case, I’d be tempted to ask about it before deciding that it has to stop. Because if all the boss is doing is parking on the street and it just happens to be outside your house after she dropped papers off, it’s an oddity, but hardly a grave offense. If her answer is something senseless or doubtful, you can proceed to “hey, yeah, neighbors are complaining… let’s meet at the office. But otherwise, my money would be on “not my circus, not my monkeys”.

          1. Snuck*

            Yeah, same here. In the absence of other weirdness or overly zealous management I’d just assume she was stopping between places/appointments, doing some work, and getting it to you. Is she the sort to work to the last minute of a deadline? So reading papers in a gap she creates in her driving around day just before she hands to them might be her ‘normal’?

            Most people aren’t intentionally being weird to bug us individuals – so unless there’s evidence to the contrary I prefer to assume they are just being unaware of the impact of their work style choices. If it really wigs you out do as Alison says, or water your front garden naked, or take her out a mug of hot coffee and offer it to her through the window of her car when she pulls up and turn it from “weird” to “warm/sociable” and say “let me know when you have them, and I’ll get the mug back from you then” … and smile … :)

            1. H2*

              I think this is well said.

              Before reading I assumed she was just driving over, but the fact that she only does it when she has a reason to be there makes me think it’s not malicious. My husband has an office and a home office, but he’s in the car so much he has it set up like an office and works in there all the time. He generally parks at a grocery store or big box store, but if he was dropping something off and there wasn’t something handy/he didn’t know the area well, I can’t guarantee he wouldn’t do this. Clueless and awkward, for sure, but not malicious. Someone downthread said a convenience store, but I don’t think you could really do that with any smaller-sized business parking lot.

              With all of that, I would hate it if someone did that at my neighbors’ house, truly.
              My dogs would bark, I would constantly wonder why you were being staked out… So I’m your kooky neighbor now, and I’m asking you to ask your boss to park somewhere else, ha!

              1. Nothing is planned*

                Yeah, there was a guy in my neighborhood who upon retirement, would go outside and get his morning paper and then sit in his own car, parked in front of his house on the street and read, take a nap, etc. for hours every day.

          2. Smithy*

            This is where my thinking went as well. The NY Times had an article on parents secret food rituals during the pandemic, and one was eating sushi in the grocery store of the parking lot. If you happened to be specifically focused on one person’s behavior – and potentially for good reason, like they’re your boss! – it can certainly be more noticable and unnerving.

            If the boss has kids, a roommate, a partner – having the escape may be a real pandemic relief. And even if they live alone, the change of scenery. However, if this boss is a true micromanager and this is just one part of other irritating behavior, then I’d do as much to make this “out of sight, out of mind”. Either moving your desk where you don’t look directly out the window, getting curtains, or working from another part of the house when she’s camped there.

            Article for reference:

            1. One paycheck away...*

              I had the same thought, because I’ve had to do it when my life was in pieces. (Not near anyone I knew. That I know of…)

        2. TooTiredToThink*

          This is also where I went too… that this is her opportunity to have time along. Quiet time, and maybe where she feels safe (i.e. she knows someone nearby).

            1. Mongrel*

              If this is the case OP could try pointing out any good coffee shops that are open & serving drive-through or pick-up only with decent parking.
              I mean if you’re going to sit in your car reading the paperwork isn’t it nicer to do it with a beverage of choice?

              1. GothicBee*

                This is what I was thinking. I used to do some work where I had long stretches of time that I didn’t have anywhere specific to go, but it was out of town, so I couldn’t go home/to an office or anything, so I would sometimes hang out in my car. It’s easy to just go hang out in a parking lot that stays fairly busy (strip malls/parking lots that serve multiple businesses are good for this) and I don’t think anyone would really notice or be bothered.

        3. London Student*

          Haha. Had the same thought. I used to do that in high school when my siblings friends would take over.

          Also, sometimes it feels oddly refreshing of focus to change settings.

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            Oh man, in my community college days, my car was my home office, dining room, living room, and nap room.

            LW, I think this is bothering you so much because you’re reading into her intentions and assuming they are bad (that she’s out there spying on you). But maybe her intentions have nothing to do with you.
            You still get to be uncomfortable and try to find a new solution, but it might be helpful to decide that the most likely explanation isn’t that she’s doing it *at* you.

        4. Delta Delta*

          This was my thought, too. If she’s got to review a bunch of documents and is frequently interrupted at her desk, sitting somewhere in her car where people can’t find her might be the only quiet time she gets.

          Maybe she could do it in a parking lot instead of in front of the house, though.

          1. GDub*

            Maybe there’s a nice park nearby where she could park her car do her work. You could tell her about it!

            1. Quill*

              Yeah, if she did this outside my current residence, I’d direct her five blocks over to the local park. It’s semi-closed right now, except for the parking lot, where there are people parked at all hours trying to play pokemon go without having to brave the winter wind.

              (And by people, I mean me, but also the several people who turned up for a 6 PM raid the other week. It was nasty out, and I usually stop on my way back from the office when I have to go in anyway.)

          2. KayDeeAye*

            The late, great Jean Kerr (author of books and plays) used to write in her car because she had many children and no peaceful place to write in the house.

            Admittedly, she did this outside her own house, not somebody else’s!

            1. KayDeeAye*

              So I just looked up Kerr’s bio, and apparently Kerr used to park a “few blocks away” from her house and write there in longhand. “There is nothing to do but write, after I get the glove compartment tidied up,” she said.

          3. Paulina*

            That works for her to escape interruptions, but for the OP (and husband) it’s an extended signal of a pending interruption. I would find what’s described — someone working in front of me for hours, and they’ll have what they’re working on for me when they’re done — to be irritating even without any thought that they might be checking up on me.

        5. Picard*

          This is exactly what I thought. She lacks a space to otherwise review the work thats quiet and with no distractions.

        6. MsClaw*

          That was my thought as well. Not clear if the boss is also working from home? If she’s got a WFH husband and 3 kids on zoom school and the dogs baying at the amazon delivery trucks, she might find that sitting in her car outside OP’s house is the quickest, quietest way for her to review the documents before handing them off to OP.

          1. Birdie*

            I can fully understand finding the car a quiet place to get things done, but it doesn’t mean it’s ok to do it in front of OP’s house. Personally, I’d probably find it more distracting than creepy to have her sitting there and in my line of sight, but either way it’s not ok.

            I can also easily imagine that the boss is using this as an excuse to get out of the office and into her quiet car, in which case she will probably resist scrapping the plan entirely. To me, it’s fine if she wants to insist on dropping the documents off, but she would need to agree to a true drop-off. The loitering in her car needs to happen elsewhere.

        7. I think this is fine*

          Yeah, after many years of community-based work, I definitely think of my car as a mobile office and often catch up on paperwork, have a snack, make some calls, etc. outside a client’s home. The McDonald’s parking lot is my satellite office :)

        8. Caradom*

          So what is stopping her from parking one car space away so she isn’t watching the OP for hours?

          1. H2*

            Because likely from her perspective she’s not watching the OP for hours, she’s working in her car for hours, in the place where she ultimately needs to be.

            As weird as this is, it would be even weirder to park twenty yards up the street for an hour and then drive up to the house to drop the stuff off. THAT would really seem like a stakeout.

            Don’t get me wrong, I would be annoyed if I were the OP but some of the reactions here are impractical or over the top. This person isn’t hanging out in front of the house when she doesn’t have a legitimate need to be there. She’s just staying longer than she needs to.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I mean, parking lots exist, though. I get that the car might feel like the most reasonable place to do her work, but that doesn’t mean the car has to be in front of OP’s house while she does it. She could easily find a strip mall or fast food restaurant or big box store somewhere between her house/the office and the OP’s house, park and review the documents there, and then go to OP’s place to drop them off. I think it would be a reasonable thing for OP to ask for.

        9. A*

          Ya, this is one of the reasons I don’t necessarily find the working-from-car part strange…. but in the coworkers driveway for hours? Super strange. Go to a parking lot.

      2. Willis*

        Yeah, I thought maybe she drives around a lot or wants to get out of the office or her house, if she also works from home some days and especially so if there are kids or a partner also learning/working remotely. I take opportunities to drive stuff to my coworkers house when needed cause I like getting out. But, it seems pretty obviously weird to sit outside their house for hours. Even if I needed to read in the car for some reason, I’d park somewhere else and do it before going to the OPs house. This is bizarre.

        1. Elysian*

          This was my first thought – I have a house full of screaming children all the time, every day. If I had a reason to get out of the house, I can see trying to maximize the amount of time that errand takes. Maybe she wants to be able to honestly tell her spouse she was at OP’s house the entire time doing work, or something, and hasn’t considered how weird this looks to the OP.

          OP can still ask it to stop, but I wouldn’t assume that the boss is doing it to try to monitor or be deliberately creepy.

      3. Persephone Mulberry*

        I might be able to give the boss the benefit of the doubt that it’s sheer obliviousness to how this is coming across to her employee.

        Boss may be thinking “okay, I need a distraction-free space to review these documents, if I head over to Employee’s house first, I can hand them over as soon as I’m done”? Like, it’s just not occurring to the boss that she could sit in her car in her *own* driveway and do her review and then drive them over (I admit to having this sort of tunnel vision occasionally!).

        Or she’s hesitant to commit to a handoff time because that would mean actually planning ahead to allow herself enough time to get the review done, vs deciding to start the review at X:00 and Employee is left dangling for however long it takes for Boss to finish.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, I was thinking maybe she has kids or loud neighbors or something at home where an excuse to leave for a few hours is welcome, and she’s just oblivious to how it’s coming across. She may even think that OP is offering to pick up the papers as a favor to her, not because of the parking issue. I think Allison’s script is good, and if the boss says “no it’s fine I will bring them to you!” then the OP can say “Sure! But could you review the papers before dropping them off? If you like to go over them in the car, there’s a park/mall/lot 5 mins away in X location.”

        2. Firecat*

          Yeah I wrote about this above a bit as someone who loves to be effecienct I have done some things that from an outside perspective looks odd AF.

      4. armchairexpert*

        Honestly I have done this (not sat outside someone’s house, but worked in the car). I have to drop my kids off at school, I have another appointment in a couple of hours near the same location, I might work from home after that… why drive into the office in the interim? I also find it a lot easier to review paperwork of this nature, which sounds like a lot of fine print, if I don’t have the internet in front of me for distraction.

        In my case I’d probably go and sit in a cafe to pass the time. I have discovered I am far (far!) more productive doing that: black coffee, no internet, hello super efficiency mode. But if you live in a pandemic, and that’s not an option, sitting in your car might be the best solution.

        Now, all of that aside, it’s still okay for OP to say it’s uncomfortable. But I’m not as baffled by the boss as others seem to be.

        1. LeahS*

          Yes, I thought the same thing as well. My car used to be where I got all important things done when I was busy… heated and free from distractions!

          If I was managing somebody, I would not do this from outside their house. That’s pretty tone deaf. But I definitely see how someone could do this and not be aware of how it’s coming across.

          1. allathian*

            Mmm, depends on the area. I’m in Finland, and here running a car on idle for more than 2 minutes (4 minutes if it’s at least -15 C/5 F) is illegal. It’s one of the letter of the law things that are rarely enforced, but if someone was sitting in the street with the car engine running for longer than a moment, a neighbor might take action if they were so inclined. If they provide timestamped evidence, say with a video recording that showed the number plate of the car, the perpetrator might just get a fine in the mail. Just a 2-minute video would do.

            1. Cheluzal*

              Holy cow, really?
              Can’t say I hate the sound of that.
              I have a neighbor who cranks his loud car at 6am every day…goes inside…waits a good 10m before leaving…Every.Single.Morning.

              I just don’t get it. Crank and go, man. It’s Florida. No need to warm up.

            2. London Student*

              I’d be very surprised if the car was on and running idle for hours — OP is probably somewhere warm enough to sit comfortably in a parked car.

              1. pleaset cheap rolls*

                People idle for many tens of minutes where I live (New York) all year long. In summer to run the AC, and in winter to keep the car warm. It would not surprise me at all anywhere in the US. Not sure about other countries.

                1. London Student*

                  I’m actually from CA (changed my username on here for an open-thread question and forgot to change it back)! My experience is very much that people wouldn’t leave their cars idle for that long, but I can see how it would be different in more extreme weather.

              2. Kippy*

                I live a city in the middle part of the US and it’s not uncommon for folks to idle their cars for a long time. Maybe not hour but a half an hour or so would be fairly common.

            3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              My next-door neighbor has had the same routine for the (almost) 11 years I’ve lived next to him, where at 5:30 AM he starts his car and leaves for work. In winter, he idles the car to warm it up before he leaves, for up to 30 minutes if it’s cold outside. The car used to be right outside my bedroom window. (As my kids started moving out, I moved to another bedroom and set up the room that he parks next to as my office, his car being the main reason why.) I sleep better with my window cracked open. And oh my god, the smell of his exhaust fumes! Used to fill my whole bedroom after 10 or so minutes. What I’m saying is, if OP’s boss runs the car for hours on end and the houses are close enough to the road that the boss can see what’s going on in OP’s house and OP and their husband can see the boss, the neighbors might indeed not be happy with the ongoing air pollution on their street.

              (Yes we talked to the neighbor, way back in 2011. He basically said “this is my driveway, I do what I want”. It is what it is.)

              1. Guacamole Bob*

                On cold mornings I usually do turn my car on and idle so I can turn on the defoggers/heat/defrosters as I scrape the frost or snow off, since it can really speed up the process. But that’s like 3-5 minutes unless the snowstorm is really big. (And we usually take transit in non-pandemic times and work from home these days, so we definitely don’t drive every day.)

                What possible benefit can there be to regularly idling an empty car for more than 5-10 minutes? I had to idle mine for 30ish recently at the advice of the roadside assistance guy who jumped it after my battery died because we hadn’t driven our second car in over a month (thanks, pandemic), but that was a special circumstance that has only happened once in the several years I’ve lived here.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  What possible benefit can there be to regularly idling an empty car for more than 5-10 minutes?
                  No clue! I used to think maybe he had an older car that took longer to warm up, but then he got a new car and continued to do that. My neighbor is not exactly the brightest bulb in the box. Who knows why he does this.

        2. London Student*

          I have done this outside (or near) people’s houses. Not for anywhere near as long (more like 20 minutes) and in the context of a job where I had to drive often to different clients. You definitely get acclimated to it.

          But I agree that OP is still right to set boundaries!

          1. Cat Tree*

            Oh wow, this would drive me nuts as the people in those houses. My neighbors already do this kind of thing and it’s so bizarre. Do you leave your car turned on and idling to use the heat or a/c? Do have daytime running lights on? You’re probably disturbing those people more then you realize.

            I live in a townhouse with a parking lot with unassigned parking. My bizarre neighbors have a constant stream of neighbors even during the pandemic. I guess the in-laws don’t like each other, because sometimes one visitor will go in the house for 20-30 minutes while the other waits in the car. I can hear the car idling, the car radio, and people talking if there are more than one. They’re completely oblivious about everyone around them. Please, don’t be like them and try to find a parking space that isn’t in front of someone’s house. Or at least make sure you turn off everything including the lights.

            1. Washi*

              I do this too! Sometimes there really isn’t another option. I work for a hospice and do home visits, and if I randomly have 20-30 minutes between appointments, I risk being late and getting caught in unexpected traffic if I try to go to a 3rd location. If I’m not idling, playing loud music, or audible in any way, I’m not sure what’s so disruptive about sitting in my car on the street for that amount of time?

            2. pleaset cheap rolls*

              It’s literally not bizarre. You’ve already mentioned too reasons people keep the engine running – heat, AC and radio. Sure it might be selfish, but not bizarre.

              1. Cat Tree*

                Ok, so I think it’s bizarre that people would be so selfish. I guess I had higher expectations.

                1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  Where I live, it’s literally illegal (because of pollution). “But air conditioning” is eye-watering.

                2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

                  @General von Klinkerhoffen: Are we from the same country? If so, I wish I’d known this earlier! At my last flat, there used to be one guy who would idle for more than an hour outside my flat (he did not live anywhere in that street! He’d drive off to god knows where after that hour+), having what sounded like technically confidential calls over the car’s phone – I don’t think he ever realised he was broadcasting his calls to the entire street. God I hated him.

                3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  @ Anne – I’m in the UK, where it’s illegal on public roads (including in traffic jams where stationary!) but not in e.g. private car parks or driveways. The RAC recommends turning off your engine if you are going to be stationary for more than a couple of minutes.

                  I would say generally that a person sitting inside a car with the engine off is not causing more bother than the same car parked and left. Playing music or phone calls through the speakers at volumes audible to strangers is pretty obnoxious.

            3. London Student*

              To be honest, Cat Tree, I’m not sure this is as unusual as you think – I wonder if your neighbors have primed you to feel annoyed with this, because what you’re describing sounds really frustrating.

              It’s worth remembering that lots of service people complete at-home appointments and do this sort of thing. Not everybody works out of an office!

              In my case, our field required at-home visits, along with fairly thorough documentation (a legal requirement). If appoinments weren’t logged as they happened, it would be impossible to keep things straight and accurately complete reports at the end of the day. (Not to mention that data storage requirements meant options for taking work home was zero, so if traffic made you late back to drop off reports, you’d have been keeping the office manager there waiting while you filled things out.) Also, as Washi pointed out, scheduling means that it’s often not feasible to drive and complete work elsewhere. Finding a parking spot that isn’t near somebody’s home would have often been time-consuming when I was visiting people in suburban areas. (On the two days I worked in a very urban area, I’d complete my work in a coffee shop, since there was always one nearby. But in the sprawling suburbs? Not possible.)

              And frankly – to what end? All the irritation you describe has to do with noise, but someone filling out paperwork in a car isn’t an inherently loud activity. I certainly understand that it’s not relaxing to have someone sitting in front of your house for 20 minutes, but I’m skeptical it’s so bothersome as to justify that amount of extra travel for people who are already in (frankly, somewhat thankless) roles that require a lot of driving time.

              As an aside: I didn’t myself or know any colleagues who would do their notes while the car was on. And I’m skeptical people completing work would blast music — those sound like irritants that are distinct from someone working.

              1. pancakes*

                Finding a place to park or idle that isn’t in front of someone’s home needn’t be done on the fly. People who find themselves needing to be in areas they’re not familiar with for work have access to all the same free map apps the rest of us use for planning visits to areas we’re not familiar with.

                1. Colette*

                  I’m sure they do – but I disagree that it’s not OK to park in front of someone’s house (and legally, the person living in the house doesn’t get a vote about whether you park there – it’s not their space.)

                  In this case, the boss is annoying the OP so it’s worth saying something, but it’s not intrinsically wrong.

                2. GothicBee*

                  And this boss is going to the same place every time, so it’s not like she can’t just use Google to find a parking area nearby she could use. I’d probably go Alison’s route and blame the neighbors and offer up a suggestion for a nearby area she could park in.

                3. London Student*

                  I think you may be overestimating the amount of personal autonomy employees have in some of these settings. In my case, schedules were drawn up by a remote team to maximise billable hours. So a detour to park in a commercial area could absolutely have left me scrambling to stay on schedule.

                  I’d rather annoy someone by completing paperwork in my car than put myself in a position to drive under time pressure. I don’t want to knock proactive solution-finding, but in many cases workers don’t have a significant amount of power in their institutions. So individual actions are often a result of how system is run, rather than a lack of familiarity with Google Maps.

                4. pancakes*

                  Colette, I didn’t mean to suggest I think it’s intrinsically wrong to park outside someone’s home, and don’t believe I did. In the letter, the boss is parked directly outside their employee’s home for hours each day. In my view, parking outside the same home for hours each day is very off-putting, unnecessary, and should be avoided.

                5. pancakes*

                  London Student, Yes, of course, but I don’t see any particular reason to believe the letter writer’s boss lacks autonomy or alternatives, the same way someone like a cable or phone tech might. Also, the nature of those jobs seems to be that people aren’t parking in front of the same home for hours each day, day after day. They are instead making visits to various homes within a certain range. That’s quite different to the scenario described in the letter.

              2. Paulina*

                Yes, tradespeople and delivery people find they need to park somewhere for short periods of time to do paperwork. I notice a lot of this happening even on my quiet street, since it’s less quiet on weekdays and I wasn’t used to it. A lot of the comings and goings set off a bit of a proximity alarm in my head — not that I’m actually alarmed, but it’s something different that my subconscious makes me notice. Especially if I might be getting a delivery myself! And even those here for me rarely park in front of my place since it’s illegal, so they park in front of someone else, or those pulling into the driveway pick the wrong one, or whatever. But these, even the delivery yesterday for my neighbour that pulled into my driveway with their stereo showing off how good their bass speakers are, are short-term, and it’s not reasonable to expect them to not be there. The OP’s boss is not short-term.

            4. Colette*

              This is really dependent on a lot of stuff. If you’re parked so that your headlights shine into someone’s house, yes, you should turn them off. But if you’re parked in front of someone’s house parallel to the house, it won’t matter. (I mean, I agree you shouldn’t be idling your car for hours, but that’s not because of the lights.) I’d only notice someone parked in front of my house if they were unusually loud or if I happened to be walking by the windows. And I wouldn’t care unless they were always there and making something difficult (e.g. blocking my driveway).

              1. pleaset cheap rolls*

                This. There are environmental issues, and if it actually seems that someone is spying, I would be upset.

                But just sitting the car? With the sound of an engine? What? I know some trucks idle loudly and perhaps certain old or special cards do, but I don’t see just normal car engine noise at idle being a valid complaint.

            5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Hah my first thought was “they are running some kind of a business out of that house”.

              I wrote about my neighbor a few comments upthread. I also sometimes get the lights and the car radio and the beeping open door. Not ideal at 5:30 in the morning! You have my sympathy.

          2. Momma Bear*

            I would take the tactic of saying, “On Tuesday I will meet you at x place and time for the papers.” If my spouse is weirded out and there’s something I can do, I’d want to do it. I think OP needs to be direct with the boss or this will never change. There are other places boss could sit. I’m one of those people that even if someone I know and like is nearby it’s like I have to be a little more aware/on/alert. I cannot fully relax if even my own mom is in my home, even if she’s just quietly reading. It sounds like OP and their spouse are keenly aware of boss and it’s bothering them.

            The boss may push back and OP may have to say, “The pick up at my home no longer works for me. If x place doesn’t work for you, please suggest a place that does.”

        3. Asenath*

          I used to do this too, when I was a part-time student, also working, and so had a car. I didn’t like cafes much – I don’t drink coffee or tea and I also find they’re often noisy, so if I’m eating in one I eat quickly and get out. But for quiet, undisturbed time, I’d park my car somewhere and read or study. I still remember which free parking lot I used to spend most of this time in, right in the back. So the parking and (presumably) working doesn’t seem odd, but doing it in front of someone’s house for any longer than it takes to assemble the documents is odd. And of course, the documents could have been put together elsewhere. I’d probably ignore the behaviour (possibly because I did something similar) but if it annoys OP, sure, make other arrangements, blaming the neighbours if needed.

          1. Not playing your game anymore*

            My mom’s in home home health nurses do this. They have paperwork to do and they will do it in the driveway. The used to do it in the house, but during the pandemic they try to get in and out as quickly as possible. Our neighbors are remote enough I doubt anyone notices. Only time it’s a problem is when they block the garage and someone needs to go pick up groceries or something. Park in the darn space that doesn’t block the driveway for everyone else, hey!

        4. LifeBeforeCorona*

          During the previous and current lockdown I got into the habit of going to a local park or even the far end of a shopping centre parking lot and zoning out with a coffee and music after work. It helped me unwind in a tiny bubble while still getting some daylight and fresh air without interacting with other people.

          1. Quill*

            I had a day at a previous job where, due to poor sleep all week, I didn’t feel like driving home on my short day and just parked in a local nature preserve and had a nap, then lunch, then drove home.

            The job before that I definitely took a few supply runs that allowed me to sit in the car at target and sort my emails undisturbed, but I actively hated that workplace and also volunteered to do inventory specifically so that I could lock myself in a storage room and be ignored. Everyone there was nosy, loud, and angry all the time.

        5. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Yeah, when I saw the headline for this letter, I assumed it was a boss checking up on a staff person and just sitting in their car watching the house or something, and that would definitely be weird and creepy. (I think there have been other letters like that!) But this seems pretty benign and explainable by comparison. I agree the OK is allowed to feel uncomfortable by it, but also I’m 99% sure the boss will just drive around a corner out of sight and do the exact same thing, so.

      5. doreen*

        That could be – my husband is in outside sales and I used to work in field jobs and both of us would park, make notes, send emails and make phone calls in between customers/clients. We would often have downtime between appointments, but not enough to go home or to the office, so the choices were park and get some work done or park and do nothing.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I live on a corner lot and the side street is a quiet cul-de-sac. Lots of work vans choose to park on the side street beside my house as an unobtrusive spot to complete paperwork and review the next appointment on the day’s schedule.

          I’ve never minded except the one time I had a rare day off and was sleeping in, only to be awakened by a church group that obviously thought no one was home for the day (my car was in the garage). They pulled three cars into my driveway and parked more on the side, before getting out and organizing their door-to-door canvass. They fled when I stormed out in my ratty bathrobe, hair standing on end.

      6. Myrin*

        I mean, it would make perfect sense in her own mind if her mind was focused on “must see with my own very eyes that OP is working to the exclusion of everything else” which would especially fit with your guess of this being a small business, maybe with OP in an essential role, and/or with not many employees.

        I think people are being very considerate in coming up with innocuous explanations for the boss’s behaviour and none of them are unlikely at all (in fact, there are a few I could actually see myself considering if I had a car) but I think it’s extremely telling that OP, who out of all of us knows this woman personally, “feel[s] like she’s watching [her], or doesn’t trust that [she’s] really home and really doing [her] work”.

        I think this is one of these situations where in a vacuum, two basically opposite explanations could be equally true but which one is more likely depends entirely on what else one knows about the person in question. OP describes her boss as “flexible” and like someone who is “trying to be helpful” which doesn’t sound half bad, but she also comes across a bit socially oblivious (doesn’t read between the lines to what seems like a pretty clear nudge; possibly doesn’t entertain the notion that it’s just plain weird to camp out for hours in front of your employee’s home), is someone who doesn’t enforce corona-appropriate standards even though she could, and has apparently behaved in ways in the past which make her employee not think of an innocent explanation when faced with strange behaviour but rather a negative one.

        In a lot of cases, how to proceed hinges on what we take from all of that information (and more, for OP, since she undoubtedly knows not just these five facts about her boss but can draw from her experience from working with her).

      7. Beckie*

        I wonder if maybe the boss is combining several errands on paperwork day, so that it’s really just easier to sit in the car and power through the paperwork before, say, going to the post office or whatever. I also see a lot of parents who squeeze in work calls around school pick-up and drop-off, and are parked and clearly working in their cars. Not saying this is the boss’s situation, just that I truly don’t find it that abnormal.

    2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I can’t help but imagine the boss with those physical papers, adding her notes while using the steering wheel as her desk, and every now and then accidentally giving the horn a little BOOOOPPPP!!!

    3. Might Have Done That*

      Like others, I am on Team This Is Not That Weird. Though I do see why some might find it oblivious and a little annoying. Appointments, traffic patterns, chance for uninterrupted space, lots of other things can all be factors.

      If I had this kind of work–especially “on a fixed schedule,” as OP says–I could easily see myself saying, “OK, I’ll get this done faster without interruptions of office or the kids’ Zoom-school at home. Appointment [x] is on the way, so I can take care of that without having to take double that time out of another workday for a special trip. If I’m in the car, I can take a call or video chat on my phone if absolutely necessary, without having to pack up my laptop and leave the coffee shop.” If I were asked not to park in front of the house, I’d probably say, “Sure, whatever.”

      I don’t have anything to add to others’ suggestions about what to say to the boss, but I agree with those who say it’s unlikely to have anything to do with you.

  2. Anononon*

    I’ve grown up and lived most of my life about fifteen minutes from another state. Up and down the border, it’s incredibly common for people to live in one and work in the other. (Funnily, both my parents still live in my hometown but work in the other state, while I’ve moved to the other state but work in my home state.) Even if an employer doesn’t recognize a small town specifically, at least where I live, no one’s going to blink if they see someone from the other state applying.

    1. Seal*

      Same here. I live and work in a fairly large city that borders another state. Many people to commute from the neighboring state to work here. In fact, every January our institution sends out reminders about filling out the proper tax forms if you don’t live in our state. So no one bats an eye at job applicants from the neighboring state.

      1. Deborah*

        Indeed. I live in a city where the metro area sprawls into parts of 3 states! At one point, I had co workers who each lived outside the extreme north and south of the metro area respectively, such that their houses were 2 hours apart with the office in the middle at one hour for each of them.

    2. Ana Gram*

      Same. I work at the junction of a tri state area and I definitely know the towns in the neighboring states. I’ve never thought twice about hiring someone who lives in one of those states.

    3. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      I don’t know if this is a clumsy option but near OP’s location on their resume/CV could they write in brackets (15mins drive from xxxxx)?

      1. Cat Tree*

        Or OP could just put a nearby larger town that is more recognizable as being close to the border.

      2. CRM*

        In the border town where I grew up, most people were familiar with the border towns in the other state, even the smaller ones. I’m sure that if OP lists their town and state, the hiring managers will know they are local.

        1. Quill*

          Depends on how small the town is. I grew up on the border but once you head out into the more rural areas of my county nobody knows which side of the state border a town is on because we have duplicates (yes, really) and also some of the towns and townships are about the size of a postage stamp, or essentially warts on another township.

          But in that case you are probably already used to people going “sorry, where?” and explaining that your township is a post office and two residential streets tacked onto the back of a Charming Local Corn Maze that bridges between your town and the next town over.

      3. Me*

        It’s unnecessary and will look weird. Employers close to borders are perfectly aware they will get employees from those bordering areas.

    4. Delta Delta*

      I live in a border area that has a large community that straddles the border. The whole community sort of thinks of itself as one, rather than State A and State B. It’s not at all unusual for people to cross the border in either direction for work.

    5. Not A Girl Boss*

      Interesting how this seems to vary so wildly between areas. I actually have encountered the exact thing OP is writing about.
      I live 20 minutes from X “large for the area” city, across a state boarder, in a tiny town literally nobody from X city has ever heard of. Its back roads to get there, so I think it made things worse that no one would ever happen to see my town on a road sign. Also, the two states prided themselves on NOT being like the other state so no one would wander across the boarder to have dinner or even grab groceries, even though that city had the closest grocery stores.

      I wrote on my resume “X Area” instead of my town, kind of like how LinkedIn likes to pile you into a larger metropolitan area. It also helped that my most recent job was in X city, so clearly I’d had no issues commuting.

      1. SwitchingGenres*

        I’m very curious about what two neighbor states have so much state pride people won’t cross the border for groceries!

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      Both my spouse and I have always lived somewhere close to state borders, so living in one state and working in the bordering state is completely normal and common. We live in the DC metro area now, and our coworkers are fairly evenly split between living in Maryland, Virginia, and the District itself. A few even commute in from West Virginia or Pennsylvania.

      The only reason (as a hiring manager) I care about someone’s state of residence is because we have to be registered to do business in that state and prepared to file any tax/corporate forms. In my experience, neighboring states tend to have some sort of reciprocity agreement – both my spouse and I live and work in different jurisdictions, and we pay income taxes in my state of residence only.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Absolutely. I once took a temp job because it was actually easier to cross a state border than it was to go to the nearby city, and I got extra $ for crossing the line. Where I live now you could be from any one of the surrounding states. It’s very common to have a long commute.

    8. Canadian Yankee*

      Yeah, I grew up in an area where four states came together (MD, PA, DE, NJ) and it was super common for people to work across state lines. My father’s daily commute actually went through three states, every single day. No employer in the area would think twice about a resume from one of the other three nearby states.

    9. Ari*

      I have a similar experience as a native of Southern New England. It’s fairly common for people to work across state lines in every direction.
      I think OP is well situated being so close to the border, but if they’re worried about any confusion on an employer’s end, they can clarify what they mean. “X metropolitan area” is a good one.
      Another option (if they’re discussing this in an interview) could be to name the next largest town nearby that someone will recognize across the border. For example, “I live in Town Y, which is right next to Bigger Town/Small City Z. So, I’m just over the state line.”

    10. Me*

      Exactly this. I live in Maryland. We get people who live in PA, WV, VA, and DC. This is an incredibly common scenario for area near enough to other states for a commute and no one is going to bat an eye.

  3. Bob*

    You could prank your boss like nobody’s business. Play loud chanting music, play a NSFW video at maximum volume, dance naked in front of the window, pretend your drinking bottles of hard liquor during work hours, the possibilities go on.
    Or you could engage in a staring contest with your boss.

    The boring answer is to close the curtains.

      1. allathian*

        Except close the curtains. That actually sounds like a good idea. I’m not sure blaming the neighbors would work here, unless there are actual complaints. Any activity that results in a lot of noise would probably annoy any neighbors who are also WFH more than it would bother the boss who’s sitting in her car.

        That said, if the LW’s office space in the living room depends on keeping the curtains open to get enough light, this isn’t going to help with the frustration with the boss.

          1. allathian*

            That’s true! It’s been years since I’ve seen any, though, so I didn’t think of them. Both my maternal and my paternal grandmothers used lace curtains, so I guess I connected them with a bygone era in my mind.

            1. londonedit*

              They’re old-fashioned here, too, but plenty of people in cities use some sort of voile curtain. One entire wall of my flat is pretty much made of glass, and I’m on the ground floor, so I have full-length thin voile curtains across the whole thing. I can see out, and the light still comes in, but people can’t see in very well!

            2. Asenath*

              I used to use net or lace curtains along with heavier ones for night when I lived in basement apartments, for added privacy. They are not fashionable these days, but they have their purpose.

          2. Littorally*

            There are also vinyl window clings that can let in light while giving privacy. Granted, the LW may not want to have that kind of privacy all the time, but they’re a good option if lace curtains aren’t preferable.

            1. Not A Girl Boss*

              We did this to our glass entry door and its been the best. Looks great, get full light through, easier to keep clean than curtains, and no one can see you at all. Plus my dogs don’t bark at people walking by anymore, huge bonus for WFH.

              Honestly though I kinda like lace curtains. My basement apartment in college I used them. I paired it with a lot of jewel tones and it was cozy.

          3. Carlie*

            Even cheaper – white flat bedsheets. If you get the really cheap ones, the fabric is thin and you get a lot of diffuse light.

            Maybe she could move to a different room when the boss is there?

        1. Paulina*

          The OP’s husband is also WFH and annoyed by this. So that’s two workspaces that would need to be adjusted, in a private home that probably doesn’t have many options. Or the boss could do her work somewhere else.

      2. Bob*

        Of course she can.
        However many are not considered appropriate work activity but no divine force actually prevents her from doing them ;)

    1. Seal*

      Taking a break to stretch during the work day is perfectly justifiable. Unless you do it during a Zoom meeting, taking a naked stretch break with the curtains open while working at home is perfectly justifiable, too.

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        Depending on where you are, this is not legal. It is OK to be naked in one’s house, but it is not OK to be posing nude where people just passing by can easily see inside.

        1. Seal*

          I was being facetious with this, certainly not encouraging someone to do something illegal! Didn’t Matthew McConaughey get arrested for doing this very thing while playing bongos years ago?

    2. GothicBee*

      I mean, it’s her house though. I don’t see why there’s a problem just asking the boss not to hang out for so long. I like Alison’s advice (plus at least where I live there are always neighbors posting complaints/warnings online about “weird” vehicles hanging around the neighborhood).

  4. MK*

    #1, I assumed that the boss is reviewing the papers before she comes to the OP’s house, but she then waits there for the OP to review them and give them back to her? There might be a reason she doesn’t want to just drop off the papers and then wait to have them back whenever. OP, I think it’s reasonable to ask her not to stake out your house like this, but find out what is going on, maybe what she needs is assurance that you will get the work done immediately and get the papers back to her the same day.

    If she is reviewing the papers in her car, that probably has something to do with her own arrangements, though.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      It sounds like she goes to the LW house, Reviews the paperwork in the car, and then drops them off. It doesn’t sound like the LW has to give the paper back right away.

    2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      From the letter: “I have to look at physical paperwork that my boss reviews before I do. She insists on dropping it off at my house, but instead of a simple handoff, she prefers to review the papers in real time outside my house, sitting in her car for hours directly outside my window.”

      From this, it seems clear that the boss is reviewing the papers outside op’s house BEFORE dropping them off. The letter doesn’t mention the boss needing to get the papers back right away or hanging around afterwards in order to do so.

  5. MK*

    #3, I agree it’s not outrageous to ask for parking permits, but…many, if not most, jobs don’t offer free parking. Maybe I am influenced by having worked all my life in city centers, but don’t most people have to figure put their own parking arrangements?

    1. Rara Avis*

      My husband’s city center employer provided lightrail/bus passes; car drivers had to pay for parking.

      1. allathian*

        My office is right next to a transport hub, with easy access by commuter trains, long distance trains, buses, and streetcars. They have very limited parking and also encourage people to come to work using public transit, at least in non-covid times. It’s possible to rent a parking space in the garage by the month, which is a lot cheaper than parking in public spaces. Still, just the parking space is more expensive than a monthly commuter’s ticket. But the parking spaces are available for rent even if you’re a part-time employee.

        That said, during covid when most people are WFH, those who need to go to the office are allowed to use reserved parking spaces for free and my employer is not charging the renters for unused parking spaces.

        1. Governmint Condition*

          This is common for government agencies too. It’s not a good look for our agency to have employees driving to work, so it’s very much discouraged. Even paid parking is hard to find near the office.

          1. Not playing your game anymore*

            We have to pay to park on our campus. Well more accurately, we pay for a hunting permit that gives us the right to park on campus if we should be so lucky as to find a spot. One of the few pluses of the pandemic it the fact that on the rare occasions I go in to work there’s plenty of parking. We also have NO public transportation, so you pretty much have to drive. I car pool I just wish more people would.

      2. chewingle*

        Same at my employer. Employees have to pay for parking in the building’s garage. But public transport is paid for by the company.

    2. Roci*

      But full time employees don’t. Isn’t it weird and kind of unfair that part-time workers have to figure it out but full timers don’t?

      1. Viki*

        Not particularly, there is a difference between full time and part time employees in both value and compensation.

        1. Peachtree*

          This is a little harsh – lots of people work part-time but they and their work can be as highly valued as a full time employee. My organisation is wonderful at allowing flexible working – we have one group head who works four days a week, several directors who work three days a week. They’re not less valued because they’re here less.

          1. Viki*

            I don’t think that is harsh.

            Full time employees in my company, due to both their time spent at work, and as such time in projects etc, provide more value in their time (purely by time spent at work) and thus compensation. If I have 15 parking spots and 15 full time employees and 5 part time employees, by pure logic and use, my parking passes are given to the full time employees because that makes more financial sense for my company.

            Part time employees are incredibly valuable but with finite resources, such as parking passes from the city, I would make sure the full time employees are covered first.

            1. Manager Maybe*

              Hm, that sounds very inefficient to me! Everywhere I’ve worked has required you to apply for a parking permit based on things like distance from work, access to public transport, physical need, whether you need to bring any equipment or need your car during the day to travel to another site, stuff like that. FT vs PT *might* be a factor if it’s the difference between someone who does a few hours a week and someone who works full-time, but it’s not going to be a significant factor between someone who works full time and someone who does 0.8FTE.

                1. Manager Maybe*

                  Oh, that might be a UK/US difference then. Anything less than 1.0 FTE counts as part time here, and most of us are 0.8 or 0.6.

              1. SimplyTheBest*

                Everywhere I’ve worked that offered parking passes or bus passes, it’s been included in your benefits package. Part-time employees don’t have the same benefits package, if they have one at all.

            2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

              I’d preferentially give passes to the full time staff too. But I’d do it because the thought of trying to coordinate part-time parking with rosters, leave, overtime/roster changes, who needs which pass when and all the griping and complaining about who got what or forgot what gives me a gigantic case of NOPE-ititis.

                1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

                  That’s what I meant. I’ve worked at places with x number of parks, so therefore y number of tags/buzzers, and when spots got shared between staff there was always, always drama.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                This is what I thought of when I read the letter. It’s going to be better use of the available passes and money for the full time employees.

                The math is pretty simple if you look at it from an hours worked perspective.

                I worked for a time at a place that contracted on site with “ACME corp” our customer… as part of the contract they provided office space to us in their downtown building. All the employees assigned there got a free monthly parking pass. Any of us who were there part time (we had a different office in the suburbs) just grabbed the spare pass before heading down. It didn’t make sense to pay for a monthly pass for people who were essentially ‘part time’ at that location.

                I mean there are lots of things that full time employees get that part time employees aren’t eligible for (potentially): 401K, health insurance, PTO/Vacation, bonus are the ones that immediately come to mind.

                I get it, the parking game is never fun, but this is something that you expect when you take a job downtown. (I used to drive to justtttttt inside the ‘downtown’ $0.50 /ride bus zone and park in a free parking lot (it was a weird little teeny tiny mall that was out of the way and never busy and I parked in the back 40) and take the bus in the last couple of miles just so I could avoid the expensive lot parking and ridiculous on-street shenanigans.

            3. Paulina*

              I agree that parking passes for full-time employees are more economical, but that also goes for passes paid by the employees. It’s a big hit to a part-timer’s lesser pay to have to pay full price for a pass that they only use part-time, and it sounds like there are no other good solutions for the part-timers. If these passes are comped by the city because the organization is affiliated, rather than actually being paid for, there may be room to provide passes to the part-timers on the understanding that they’re being used part-time in the designated lot. Alternatively, depending on the pass mechanics, a set of transferable passes. Most cities don’t want metered parking filled up by employees anyway, which is why they have time limits.

              1. A*

                Driving is not the only transportation option out there though. I look at these kinds of things the same way I do commute time etc. If driving to work (vs public transit, ride share, biking, etc) is a necessity or top priority for me, I would be seeking out employment opportunities that would allow for that. I think it’s nice to provide parking passes or accommodations if possible, but ultimately it’s each employees responsibility to manage their own transport and assess for themselves if the options available to them / their preferences are in line with what the reality of what they’d be up against in any given position or location.

        2. Mockingjay*

          This reminds me of my first professional job. Exempt employees got full medical and dental insurance. Hourly employees got a more limited medical policy and no dental. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t understand why people would be classed for separate benefits. We had only three hourly employees; giving them full benefits wouldn’t have added much cost to the company’s group insurance plan.

          The worst part was the hourly staff were the ones who processed the paperwork for new exempt employees. “Oh look, new hire Fred gets full benefits and we…don’t.”

          1. Generic Name*

            Unequal benefits for different job classes is a great way to preserve the unequal distribution of wealth

        1. Former Fed*

          The poster said hourly (non-exempt) vs. exempt employees, not part-time. You can be a full time hourly employee.

          1. Myrin*

            Which poster are you referring to?
            If it’s Roci, she said “Isn’t it weird and kind of unfair that part-time workers have to figure it out but full timers don’t?”.
            If it’s the OP, she said “The full-time staff have all been given […] parking passes to a nearby parking lot, but the part-time staff have to either pay several hundred dollars a year”.
            Maybe your comment threaded wrongly?

      2. Union Maid*

        if this were in the UK, I would be looking around to see if the other part-timers were more likely to be women and making a case that this is indirect discrimination.
        In any case, you could see if all the part-timer drivers might want to band together to take this to management? And, I assume you are not in a union, but if you are, take it to them.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Yes – it’s weird that full-timers get their parking completely covered but part-timers don’t get coverage *at all*, and it’s something a UK employer would be wary of because of case law invoking sex discrimination.

          1. SimplyTheBest*

            I don’t think it’s weird at all. Part-time employees often don’t get a benefits package.

        2. Bookish Person*

          While I’m sure that could be the case, my read on this is screaming “library”. If so, typically the majority of library employees
          for both full time and part time are women.
          However even if it isn’t a library, I can see plenty of other reasons why this has happened. With it being municipal government means there’s a chance FTE are part of a union (in the US, part time are not usually unionized) and so parking could be something spelled out in their contract (note that letter writer said the city’s other part time employees don’t get parking passes either) or the city feels they have to cut costs where ever they can and this is the line they drew. City governments do lots of weird things that often make little sense.

      3. Bagpuss*

        Yes, it is weird and unfair that it is provided in full to full timers and not at all to part timers.

        It might be fair to contribute some of the cost – for instance, if the passes are non-transferable and can only be bought for a full week/month/year then buying one for a part timer means you are paying for something that doesn’t get used as fully, but that would be an argument for buying / reimbursing the cost of a permit on a pro-rata basis, or making a payment towards parking costs equivalent to the pro-rated cost of a permit (which might well not cover the full costs of actual parking, if having a pass means you pay less per day than paying daily, but it would reduce the inequality of treatment of full and part time workers. )
        Maybe OP could propose that the employer makes a contribution to parking costs on that basis, for part time workers? e.g. if a pass works out at $200 a month, and they work a 3 day week, contribute $120/month to their parking costs .

        I assume that this is legal in the US? (In the UK, it not lawful to treat part time workers less favorably than full time workers, in part because it tends to disproportionally affect women, so here it wouldn’t be legal to provide a perk like free parking and restrict it to full time employees, although providing it to some employees and not others based on seniority or a different, non-discriminatory reason would be lawful)

        1. Imprudence*

          Came here to say the same thing: it is potentially discrimantory to women, and this might be angle to push back using Alison’s scrpts “I wouldn’t want the company to get into trouble because…”

        2. UKDancer*

          Definitely. It’s pretty clear legally that in the UK you need to offer the same benefits to part time workers as you to do to full time ones. As well as being provided for in legislation, there is a reasonable amount of case law I think showing that things like parking passes are one of the benefits that need to be provided equally to all employees.

          I know my company (being London based) doesn’t have any parking but they do offer a loan to buy a season ticket for the train and tube or to buy a bike. This has to be open to part time staff as well as full time ones. Not all of the part time ones want a ticket because it’s not good value for money as they’re only in part of the week, but you absolutely have to offer it on the same basis.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I have to guess that it’s fairly normal in the US. Unless I was being paid very well, I would not be able to accept a part time job under such terms. Overall, I think this practice is wildly unfair to part time people and needs to change.

        4. Nikki*

          It’s very normal in the US to provide benefits to full time workers that part time workers don’t get. Most part time jobs do not provide paid time off, health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. I’m sure this extends to parking and transportation subsidies at companies that offer these benefits. (Preemptive plea that commenters in other countries avoid the typical replies about how awful the US is to workers and how glad you are to live in a civilized society. It’s exhausting to hear that so often from commenters on this site!)

          1. chewingle*

            Yes, and it’s in fact a big problem in the US for employers to ride the line between part-time and full-time to avoid giving employees benefits (retail comes to mind).

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              Yes, if full-time is defined at 40/w then you can cheerfully employ people at 39h/w and offer them no benefits at all. It’s … not cool.

          2. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

            It’s not quite the same, but we do have a similar problem in the UK where a company isn’t obliged to help with your pension until you earn over £X (can’t remember off the top of my head). But a good chunk people under that income are part time workers, and most part time workers are women! So we do have our own sneaky ways of being crap to part timers :(

        5. Perfectly Particular*

          In the US, part time employees are at a significant disadvantage. Employers of a certain size are required to offer a health care plan, but only for full time employees. We can use tax-free money to partially pay for child care, but only if you are working full time. Many employers do not offer retirement benefits for part time employees… the list goes on. For working parents in the US, the choice often feels like work full time or stay @ home full time, because once you have lost your benefits, the cost of working increases and the impact of staying home becomes less significant financially.

      4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        There has to be a difference between full time, part time, contractor and intern, apart from salary. Parking can certainly be one of those perks that are only for full time employees, such as discounts in a nearby coffee shop, or extra days off.

        1. PersephoneUnderground*

          There often *is* a difference, but I don’t see any inherent reason there *should* be a difference. The jobs are different, and paid differently, but basic benefits like parking don’t need to have any link to job type, and actually it’s a pretty raw deal to decide your lowest paid workers also have to take on extra expenses just to work for you that your highest paid workers don’t!

          1. MCMonkeybean*

            Yeah, I highly disagree with that take. I would usually expect the main difference between part time and full time employees to be the number of hours worked. I would often expect that part time employees aren’t offered benefits because they don’t have to be, but not because they *shouldn’t* be.

        2. GothicBee*

          Idk, I feel like it’s weird for a business to decide they want to make it more difficult for their part-time employees (who are likely paid less anyway) to find a parking space. It’s a minor thing, but if it’s enough of an annoyance it’s going to cause higher turnover, especially since part-time workers are less likely to be there long term anyway. Why not just provide parking for everyone?

          And there’s no reason that part time employees shouldn’t get the same benefits. A 10% discount at a local coffee shop is not something that needs to be limited to full time workers. And part-timers *should* get time off based on how much they work, e.g., if someone who works 40 hours a week gets 10 days vacation a year, then someone who works 20 hours a week should get 5 days vacation a year.

        3. Forrest*

          The difference in the UK is just whether you’re contracted full time (usually defined as between 37-40 hours, depending on your organisation) or less. There don’t have to be any other contractual differences at all.

      5. Helena*

        When something seems unfair, the best first move is to ask someone why it is that way, rather than protesting that it’s unfair. If you ask and nobody knows why it’s that way, that’s a fantastic opening for arguing it shouldn’t be that way.

      6. Butterfly Counter*

        This is what my university does. Full time employees have to pay for parking and part timers don’t. I think it’s largely because parking is so expensive and there is a HUGE pay disparity between full timers and part timers. I’ve been both.

        Part timers get about $1000 a month. They come in 2X a week for 4ish hours at the cost of $16 a week for parking or about $64ish a month. Full timers get $5000 a month and come in 4X a week for 6-10 hours (parking garages max out at 4 hours) and pay $36 a week for about $144(ish) a month. The percentage of a part timer’s salary that went to parking (6.4%) more than doubled the percentage of salary that went to full timer’s parking (< 3%).

        For this reason, my college pays for part timer parking, but not full timer parking. It helps there are only a handful of part timers compared to full timers.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          *And by max out, parking costs $2/hr for up to 4 hours, after which, parking is not charged.

    3. Washi*

      Yeah, in my experience it’s weird for parking to be this tight but also there are no public transportation options? And if it’s a place with no real transit, are there also no unzoned areas within 5-6 blocks where people can park a little farther out and walk in? When I worked in downtown DC, there were people who drove in and fed the meter/moved their car every two hours but that was seen as their choice. And on the other end, my mom works in my small hometown’s downtown, which is also crunched for parking with no real transit options, but there’s an unzoned lot a 10-min walk away, so she just does that. Yes, it adds to the commute but it’s a lot less stressful than running back and forth to a meter!

      1. Nikki*

        It really depends on the city. I live in a mid sized city that has some public transit options, but they’re not great. The vast majority of people drive. In the downtown area, there are almost no free parking options. Most parking lots require paid daily or monthly passes. Almost all street parking is either metered or limited time parking. A lot of businesses downtown do have their own lots so patrons can park for free, but they’ll tow anyone parked there that isn’t patronizing the business. It’s a similar situation at the nearby university. All of the on campus lots are paid parking. The surrounding neighborhoods only allow residents of the neighborhood to park on the street because the homeowners complained so much about students taking up all the street parking. In order to get free parking, you’d need to walk a couple miles.

        1. Applesauced*

          Same. I’m my opinion, if the location doesn’t have good public transit options (and by good I mean like Boston, New York, Chicago, DC level transit) parking should be free.

          Basically, if the only reasonable option to to drive somewhere, you shouldn’t be punished for that.

          But really, the US just needs to invest in better public transit.

          1. GothicBee*

            I agree. My city only offers the bus for public transit. I live next to a bus stop and once looked into taking the bus to work. I would have to walk to a different bus stop in the first place and then ride 3 different buses and my commute would have been 1.5 hours one way (if everything was running on time, but that’s unlikely, so more like 2 hours or more). Compare that to my current drive which is under 25 minutes in traffic. It’s no wonder the only people who take the bus are the ones who have no other option.

      2. LCH*

        i worked in LA for awhile which has difficult parking and iffy public transit because cars rule supreme there. luckily my work place had its own parking. but i do wonder wtf everyone else does. because LA is definitely overwhelmed by cars.

        1. A*

          I actually have a friend in the LA area that (pre-COVID) had this issue because her employer is fairly small and doesn’t have it’s own lot. She ended up posting online and making an arrangement with a nearby residence where she rented their driveway for $5/day and would walk the few blocks from there to the office.

          Unusual, but a creative solution! That being said, she knew this would be a challenge when she accepted the job, so if she was bothered by it… she wouldn’t have accepted it.

      3. Joielle*

        I thought the same thing! And even if there’s not great public transit – like, it would be inconvenient to take the bus all the way from your house to your office – surely you could look up the bus schedule, figure out which bus would work best to get to the office, and park near a bus stop around the time that a bus would be arriving. Basically – since you’re already driving, just drive to a bus stop instead of the office.

        Admittedly, in non-covid times, I commuted exclusively via public transit, so my tolerance for waiting outside for a while is probably higher than people who drive everywhere. But like… you can get used to it, it’s not that bad. Certainly it’s better than moving your car every two hours.

        And yeah, I’ve also done the “drive in, park far away for cheaper, walk to work” thing and that’s also fine. A 15-20 minute walk at the beginning and end of the work day is kind of nice! Of course, there are probably some people who are unwilling or unable to do that, but it would probably work for many with some pre-planning.

        1. Lisa Poe*

          Sadly, there are places where public transit technically exists but functionally does not. I used to live in Tampa, and I remember a coworker who had moved from NYC without a car, assuming he could use the bus system. He found out the bus ran once an hour, and it often just didn’t show up at all. Things like bad connections that force you to wait an hour at each stop really make it impractical to use.

          1. A*

            Does Tampa also have the extreme parking crunch that the larger cities being discussed have? Genuine question because I’m not familiar with the area. I would think it would only be an issue if it was a combo of that extreme of a parking crunch to the point where you can’t find anything within a 20 min walk + lack of consistent public transit.

            1. Junior Assistant Peon*

              I was in downtown Tampa for a conference several years ago, and it reminded me of how Philadelphia and NYC were in the 1980s. Downtown is strictly office workers who go home at 5; the urban living trend hasn’t spread there yet. Street parking spaces were empty at night.

        2. Not playing your game anymore*

          BWaHaHa. We don’t have anything remotely like a park and ride situation. We have a city bus that runs very limited routes (basically designed to get kids to school) and with our lousy weather walking 15 – 20 minutes could easily put you in frostbite or heat stroke territory for good portions of the year.

    4. Quinalla*

      If they weren’t offering parking to anyone, I would understand, but I too think it sucks that they don’t offer parking to the part-time folks too. I get it, in the US part-time gets less/no benefits than full time. However, if you are working part-time, you make less money that full-time employees making the expense a more significant bite of your wages. I had to make the case for our co-ops (who are college students working for us for $$ and experience for the summer or one semester) for our office that is downtown with no free parking anywhere near (30 minute walk away minimum) that they should get their parking covered. Not any parking they wanted, but at least the cheapest reasonably nearby parking (10-15 minute walk). After taking that to leadership, they decided to reimburse everyone in our downtown regional offices for parking by a certain $$ amount (main office has a parking lot as it is not in a downtown area). So you could pick the close expensive garage, but you only got $X reimbursed. I didn’t care personally if I got reimbursed (not that I turned it down of course), the monthly parking expense is a drop in the bucket of my salary, but the expense was significant for a co-op (Who are making more than minimum wage, but not a lot more) or other hourly worker’s wage.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I mean at all companies I’ve worked at, senior leadership got free parking (or in one major metro they got car services) while everyone else had to pay for parking. The fact that people make less has never factored into parking benefits where I’ve been.

        1. PersephoneUnderground*

          That doesn’t make it a good policy though, just one that’s not unheard of. And there’s a big difference between paying for free parking for one or two executives as a perk and paying for only full time staff but not part-time, when part-time can afford it less. I’m also fascinated by the UK comments pointing out disparate impact- that never occurred to me but is likely true in the US. We know our system perpetuates the gender pay gap but it never occurred to me that the PT/FT split was a likely cause. Excuse me while I call my state legislator, this is something he’d be interested in…

          1. UKDancer*

            If you’re interested in the issue then it’s worth looking at the UK regulations on the issue on legislation dot gov dot uk. They’re called the Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

            I don’t say it’s the only or the best way to provide for this and it doesn’t entirely prevent people finding other ways to discriminate so I am not saying this is perfect. But if you’re interested in what the legislation on this issue might look like this is the UK approach. Other EU countries are likely to have done something similar as it’s implementing an EU obligation.

        2. Paulina*

          Providing (often reserved) parking to senior leadership is often justified by the extent to which they may come and go at unusual times (such as for meetings), and the value of their salary that would be wasted by them having to hunt for a spot. Though I expect it’s mostly justified by how much they may want to retain senior leadership, and that it’s an expected perk.

    5. doreen*

      It almost certainly has been influenced by having worked in city centers all your life. The only job I’ve had that provided parking at my worksite* was a fast food restaurant with a very large parking lot where I worked in college. The only jobs I know of in the city that provide parking for employees are store/restaurants with large parking lots – which is a very small number of places. Most stores/restaurants/ offices don’t even have a parking lot, much less one that can accommodate employees and customers.

      In suburban and rural areas, it’s very different – it seems like every business has a parking lot from big office buildings to a two person insurance office.

      * In another comment, I mentioned a parking placard my current job provides- but that’s actually not supposed to be used when I’m working at my office.

    6. stiveee*

      Agreed-that’s why most people take the train where I work. That’s my suggestion to the OP post-pandemic and assuming they are not in a transportation desert (where I’m from the affluent neighborhoods have more reliable trains and buses). With COVID employers might want to facilitate driving for safety.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Parking or a commuter stipend is, IMO, an easy perk that companies should consider. I’ve had parking provided, no parking, a commuter stipend, etc. It definitely helps morale to have parking or transit subsidized. I had a coworker at an old job quit after she was denied the same $ other people got for parking. She took the bus and asked for it to be provided in commuter checks. They lost a valuable employee because she didn’t drive. I don’t ask for my company to pay for my tolls, but I do really appreciate free and ample parking at this location. I also appreciate SAFE and convenient parking. I do not like creepy parking garages at night. One job I paid extra to park closer so I wouldn’t feel like I was going to be murdered in the garage, but not everyone has that option.

      I’d present it from a “time waster” perspective. How much work time is wasted with dealing with parking and how much better would it be for the company to offer to pay even a percentage of the parking? What if PT folks got even half the fee covered? Would that be a cost savings re: focused work time? It could also be good for recruiting quality people.

      1. GothicBee*

        I agree on the time-wasting perspective. I can’t imagine a reasonable company would really rather have employees wasting time dealing with parking than working. Not to mention it’s an easy way to make things more pleasant, thereby attracting better workers.

        Also, I wonder if the issue is that paying for a parking pass isn’t worth it for employees who are only there part-time. In that case, I think they could put a system in place where hourly employees can get reimbursed for hourly parking fees instead for the time they’re there for work.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          In a lot of places I’ve seen, the hourly parking fees are inflated much more than if you are paying for a monthly parking fee. But a monthly parking fee for a part-time employee (often part-time employees are hourly employees, not professionals, and therefore aren’t valued as much) would be excessive as well. One company I worked for did pay for our bus/train pass completely, and only VPs had their own parking in the building. It was extremely expensive to pay for parking in the downtown area.

    8. funkydonut*

      Yes, I can’t imagine expecting my employer to provide me with free parking in the busy and expensive part of town where I work. But I am also given a free public transportation pass as an employee. I park (for free) outside of town at a park n ride lot and take the bus in on the busway – much faster and cheaper. I’m not sure why there was no mention of public transport in the letter or answer. I know not every city prioritizes public transportation (mine doesn’t) but usually there’s at least SOME option besides expensive parking.

  6. Black Horse Dancing*

    #1, Honestly, I don’t think you really can do much here. if boss wants to sit in her car and read on a public street, it’s (probably) not illegal. Maybe her house is too noisy, she wants to chill and listen to music, etc. Close the curtains and ignore.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s not illegal, sure, but it is creepy. If she wants quiet she should park somewhere away from people’s houses.

      1. Veronica*

        The creepy description depends on the neighborhood. I’ve noticed the more suburban and richer the neighborhood the more people call the police about “suspicious” people parked in their cars. People park on my street for all kinds of reasons. So this would be considered normal where I live. It would prompt a flurry of calls to the police in my in-laws neighborhood.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Our suburban community would report a repeated loiterer because cars in the community have been broken into and stolen from over the past six months. If you’re there once, it’s probably not going to be noticed. If you’re there frequently, people are going to want to know what you’re doing. (This sort of loitering report is also what ultimately caught the trio of home invaders that were breaking into people’s homes during the workday and making off with their electronics. They were caught red-handed coming out of a home with someone’s flat screen because their lookout waiting in getaway minivan was reported to the local police.)

          It’s less the parking and more the person sitting in the car for hours on end.

          1. Malarkey01*

            Not trying to jump on this comment, but loiter laws are increasingly recognized as a tool used to harass and single out people of color, low income earners, and the homeless. It’s saying “you don’t belong here” even though the here is a publicly funded street. The police aren’t going up to the white woman in the Lexus sitting on the street weekly while her kid takes a music lesson in someone’s home, but will use it to tell a minority in an older model car they can’t sit in the same spot while their spouse cleans someone’s home for example.

            1. Caradom*

              If you’re working in someone’s house or you took your children for a lesson there is a reason. The issue is when you don’t have a good reason like that.

                1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                  In a perfect world, no. In the real, less than perfect world we live in, it doesn’t always work that way. :-/

          2. JSPA*

            Sitting in your car doing paperwork during a pandemic isn’t “loitering.” Boss isn’t taking pictures, drinking beer, or whatever. It’s actually 100% legal for someone to park in a residential neighborhood, if it’s on a public road, paid for by public taxes. In fact, restricting parking to residents is highly questionable practice, if the community receives public services. (Can’t have it both ways.)

            1. Caradom*

              I have no idea where you might be but in England, we are in lockdown and you can’t leave the area for anything other than work or a very good reason (E.g., I’m going to the doctors): Police: where do you live? Where is your GP surgery? Ok if that is the case why are you not alone and not in the area your appointment is in?

              And good luck if you don’t have a reason like that. They’re fining people left right and centre.

              1. Another British poster*

                I’m British (in London) and this is flat out not true. Cases where the police have fined people for travelling outside their area related to people driving to exercise/socialise, mostly involved one specific police force which is infamous for being heavy handed, and mostly the fines have been overturned.

                You’re not supposed to leave home except for daily exercise, work, shopping, medical stuff, etc. but outside of known beauty spots the police aren’t stopping cars.

                The “local area” restriction refers specifically to exercise (there are no restrictions on how far you can travel for work related reasons) and local area is generally but not legally considered to be 5 miles, though even Boris Johnson travelled more than 5 miles to exercise. I don’t see how it’s relevant anyway since the boss who’s parking outside is almost certainly within the local area and legally it would be considered work travel which is permitted.

      2. Queen Anon*

        Thank you Keymaster of Gozer! I’ve been reading comments and becoming increasingly befuddled at the number of commenters who think this is no big deal. Parking your car and sitting for a length of time in the far end of a parking lot or at a park – that’s no big deal. But doing it in front of someone’s house in a residential neighborhood? Not done. Of course my experience is not everyone’s experience; I realize that. But I can certainly say that in nearly 58 years living in places ranging from farm towns to major metropolises, sitting in front if someone’s house for a long time without going to the door would raise major side eye and in some places, either a tap on the car window to see what’s going on or a non-emergency call to the cops to report suspicious behavior.

        I have not lived a sheltered life but even so, this comment thread has been a real eye-opener for me. (And learning that plenty of people consider this completely normal doesn’t make it feel any less creepy to me. People who insist on standing in my personal space to talk are engaging in normal behavior for them but still feel creepy and invasive to me. Thats how I felt reading the OP’s post and it sounds as if that may be how they and their husband feel as well.)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I live in a cul de sac, it’s pretty strange to have anybody parked out front on the road for longer than a few minutes.

          Additionally, yeah I do have worries about a couple of stalkers I know are still out there so I’d be more than likely to point out to the boss that while whatever they’re doing is benign, i’d still appreciate it if they found somewhere else to park up for extended periods of time.

        2. I don't think this is weird*

          I have also lived in a wide range of settings, and while I might be curious about someone parked in front of my house, it would never cross my mind to feel threatened or to involve the police. And I would be very taken aback if someone tapped on my window or called police when I was finishing up paperwork or having a snack or something of that kind. Maybe this is just a cultural difference? I’m not American, if that helps.

          1. Caradom*

            So you’re saying you would always park at the same house, for hours an end, where you have full view of the occupants of the house?

            1. Maggie*

              You seem to be taking this really personally, people are going to have different thoughts on the subject, its a discussion.

            2. I don’t think this is weird*

              I mean, maybe, if it was my client’s house and I had just finished seeing them? It wouldn’t really occur to me not to.

        3. Maggie*

          Who even pays attention to this kind of thing? I would never know if someone was on my street for a while because I dont stare out my window looking for people who maybe sat in their car too long. I’m equally as confused by you at people who think its weird to sit in your car on a public street.

          1. MCMonkeybean*

            My neighbor has a weird habit of turning their car on for like 15 minutes before actually getting in it and going anywhere. Definitely far longer than a typical “leave it running to get warm” or something. It is surprisingly LOUD. They do it almost every workday and it bothers me so much and I can’t even see them. It’s just a really obnoxious noise and it happens all the time.

            All this to say to the OP I cosign Alison’s suggestion to blame the neighbors as I am at least one person who would plausibly be annoyed by your boss sitting outside in the street for hours if her car is even half as loud as my neighbor’s.

      3. Shan*

        And, more specifically, away from her direct report’s house! So many of the responses here are completely ignoring that part, like Boss is just parking in front of some random house on a random street with occupants who may or may not even notice she’s there.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The boss could chill at a near by convenience store or other public parking area.

      It’s striking to me because I would not be able to park like that every day because I would worry that I was upsetting someone. I guess the boss has not thought of that? But this is the world we have. It’s common for people to report stuff like this to the police- a stranger sitting in a parked car for hours daily.

      1. Generic Name*

        Me too! I feel weird when I have to pull over in an unfamiliar neighborhood to queue up directions or whatever. In the thread above people are coming up with a myriad of reasons why the boss might do such a thing (and presumably therefore the OP shouldn’t be weirded out by it). But I see nearly no comments wondering why the boss doesn’t have an ounce of self-awareness to wonder about the effect her car sitting is having on the OP.

      2. GothicBee*

        Yeah, I’d honestly be worried someone would come confront me with a gun or call the cops or something, but I live in the south and there’s tons of people who get *seriously* overly suspicious about idling cars in a neighborhood.

        I wonder though if some of why the LW feels its weird is because she says it’s directly in front of her window. My house is such that if someone parks in front of my house they’re going to be directly outside my living room window, so I’d be weirded out if someone was just sitting there like that. Whereas I wouldn’t be so weirded out if it was at a house more like my friend’s place where the house is back from the street and there’s more space for parking.

      3. Beckie*

        There is not a lot of “public” parking that is available for this sort of activity — most “public” parking is for customers of a certain business and/or business district. But on-street parking in a neighborhood is usually not restricted during the day*, so it is a better option for the LW’s boss than a convenience store parking lot.

        * I know that neighborhoods often place 2-4 hour limits on street parking, if they are close to a university or major transit center, etc., but I am assuming this is not the case for the LW.

      4. Caradom*

        People get upset when you park outside their house even though legally you can (here in England). This has literally resulted in neighbour wars.

    3. Cat Tree*

      It doesn’t have to be illegal to ask her not to do it. Sure, if she refuses then you can’t call the police or press charges but it’s perfectly fine to ask her to stop.

    4. Ophelia*

      This is so fascinating to me because it really illustrates the difference between cities/suburbs. Like, I don’t think I would even notice an extra random car parked on my block unless it was being somehow separately obnoxious.

      1. doreen*

        I wouldn’t notice either , and the comment about parking away from people’s houses – no such thing where I live . Even the businesses usually have apartments above them and convenience stores don’t usually have parking lots.

      2. meyer lemon*

        Yeah, as an apartment-dweller (who lives next to the parking lot), this wouldn’t register with me unless the boss was throwing rocks at my window. There is always someone out there working on their car, picking up bottles, playing basketball, talking, yelling, playing music, revving their car as loud as humanly possible, etc. I’m honestly a bit surprised that someone just sitting in a car would bother people this much, unless it was a stalker or something.

      3. Maggie*

        Yeah this doesn’t exist where I live. Even when I lived in Midwest suburbia I can’t recall myself or my family ever speaking about ‘who’s in a car out there’. Like ever. This is 100% foreign to me and I genuinely cannot comprehend expending mental resources on how long someone’s been in their private vehicle on a public street. People here would lose it if they found out a homeless guy sleeps in a doorway a few houses down from me every once in a while.

      4. MCMonkeybean*

        So many people are talking about this as a “car parked” rather than a “car with a person sitting inside it for an extended period of time.” Those are very different things that leave different impressions on the neighbors.

        My neighborhood has tons of cars parked in it every day and I don’t notice any of them in particular unless they are directly in my way (a lot of people have so many cars in their driveway that some are blocking the sidewalk).

        There is one car that very often is in their driveway with a person sitting inside for extended periods and I definitely notice that and it always stands out as being extremely odd. Going for walks and runs is pretty much the only time I get out of the house lately of course so I do it a lot and the percentage of time that someone is sitting in this car when I leave and still there when I come back 20-30 minutes later is very high and it’s always very weird. They are in a driveway and not on the street, therefore I assume they are part of that household so I’m not worried about them or anything but… it’s definitely weird and it is definitely very noticeable.

  7. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    OP5: You could always put a brief clarification in your resume headline or summary, if it would ease your mind. Something like “Detail-oriented aspiring accountant seeking entry-level role; resides 20 minutes south of X city.” It’s not perfect but it might make you feel better. When I was attending college through the online branch of a distant school, I made sure my resume clearly said, “Attending X state school online and available to work in Y state.”

      1. JSPA*

        I’d do what BadApple suggests, but with the awareness that all the caveats about being located in a different state from your employer may still hold, even if you’re in the metro area, unless the two states have reciprocity for taxes (and actually, even if they do).

        If there were a large-ish metro area or suburb on each side of the line, it’d be something most local employers would already have dealt with. But if 99.9% of the potential employees and all of the brick-and-mortar presence is on the other side of the line, you’re a special case, procedures and registrations may not already be in place, and they may not be interested.

  8. germank106*

    OP #1:
    Have you tried approaching this from a different angle? Something like “I worry about you sitting outside of my house for hours. You can’t possibly be comfortable sitting in your car for so long. It is also making me and my spouse (throw in the neighbors for good measure if you need to) very uncomfortable” and then offer a solution like her calling you when she has reviewed the paperwork in her office.
    If that doesn’t work you could potentially call your local police department and ask them to intervene. Any situation that makes you that uncomfortable falls under stalking laws in most States. Have them tell her nicely that she can’t do this. Do NOT call 9-1-1 for this, just call the local number for the police department, explain the situation and ask them to intervene when it happens again.

      1. EPLawyer*

        THIS. The OP even says the Boss hasn’t read between the lines. The Boss should not have to guess what the OP is getting at. OP needs to talk to the Boss clearly about not parking in front of the house for hours.

        If someone is not getting a clue, its time to be explicit. Alison’s script is perfect. “Hi, I will meet you at the office at X time to get the papers.” Problem solved.

      2. Cat Tree*

        I’m constantly amazed that people will go to such great lengths just to avoid making a polite request to someone. This situation doesn’t have to be that complicated.

          1. PhysicsTeacher*

            I agree that the boss shouldn’t be doing this (and ideally would’ve realized this herself and started parking elsewhere, like a public park, if she absolutely needs to work out of her car), but I don’t think disagreeing about it calls for telling people they have limited reasoning.

          2. Delphine*

            I’m not sure calling the police on your boss, instead of just communicating with them, is a good way to keep your job.

      3. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I sort of agree, but if OP is afraid to use her words, calling the police would be little different than using the neighbors as an excuse for not wanting the boss to sit outside OP’s house for hours, plus, they wouldn’t be lying about anything. Sitting outside someone’s house for hours gives the appearance of stalking. In suburban areas like mine, these types of police encounters are very gentle, they usually apologize for bothering the motorist, but have to respond if someone complains. I know, this has happened to me. In my own village!

        1. Elsajeni*

          I think it’s much riskier to the relationship than using the neighbors as an excuse! If the boss figures out you lied about the neighbors complaining, maybe she’ll be annoyed about having to change her routine or frustrated that you couldn’t just come out and say it bothered you, but hey, at least you were trying to be diplomatic; if your boss figures out you called the cops on her, she’ll be annoyed or frustrated for the same reasons, plus also you called the cops on her. There’s really no circumstance where calling the cops on someone could be described as “more diplomatic” than asking them to knock off whatever’s bothering you.

    1. ....*

      I don’t think she needs to report her boss to the police as a stalker…. her boss probably just has noisy kids at home or a husband who’s always one video calls and wants to get away for a second. Cops don’t do anything about real stalkers…I don’t think they’ll intervene in “my boss dropped something off and then sat in her car”

      1. Caradom*

        Cops here are fining anyone they see without good reason to be out in the area they are out in. And I mean actual good reason like a face to face medical appointment.

        1. Another British poster*

          Yeah that’s not true… unless you live in Derbyshire in which case you get famous as a result of being “fined.”

          I travel from London to Oxford every month for hospital appointments, take the tube all over London every day for work, I’ve never been approached or asked why I’m out, ever. I don’t know how things are in the rest of the UK but London is still really busy. (Which is bad, admittedly.)

          Still not sure how “in some parts of England police can fine you for driving to socialise” has any bearing on someone in America driving for work reasons, which is legal per both British and American rules.

    2. Roci*

      I don’t see how OP could involve the police in any way without making things really awkward for them at work. That would torpedo the working relationship. I think it would have to escalate greatly before that would be justified.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        This, 100%.

        Plus, police have much more important things to deal with where I am, like the massive surge in DV call outs since COVID, for example. Don’t divert their limited life-saving resources for a work issue that just needs words and grown-up pants.

        1. Caradom*

          Where I am police are fining people if they are outside their local area. You can’t get away with it because anything crucial you need does not require shifting area or can be ordered online.

          1. Another British poster*

            Shopping is considered a valid reason to be out. Ditto anything work related. And “local area” is like 5-10 miles not your street or immediate neighbourhood. Nothing to indicate the boss is outside her local area.

    3. allathian*

      She’s sitting outside in a public street, going about her business. Hardly stalking by any reasonable standard, even if it is making both the LW and her husband uncomfortable.

      My guess is that the boss is not very good at taking hints, so if you have 1:1 meetings, use your words. Say something about “When you sit outside our house for hours and review the documents before giving them to me, it’s making me wonder if I’ve done anything to make you believe I’m not working when I’m working from home. It’s also making both me and my husband feel very uncomfortable.” And then you’d add any ideas on how you’d prefer to go about this.

      1. Caradom*

        Covid rules where I am clearly state you can not be in an area you are not meant to be in. Slouching around in a parking space outside the window of an employee are nowhere close to meeting the criteria and the boss would be fined. If it was more than 1 occasion the next fine would be much higher and on and on.

        1. Another British poster*

          Genuinely, why do you keep obsessively hammering on about things that aren’t accurate and have no relevance to something taking place in a completely different country?

          Even if the boss was in England such a trip is considered work related which is legal and the boss is most likely within 5-10 miles of her home which means it is considered her local area.

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            Correct, what Caradom is talking about doesn’t apply anywhere in the US, that I know of. I’m not in a location that is super locked down at present (like, say SoCal, which is a major hot spot at present), but I seriously doubt that cops anywhere in this country are running around checking the i.d.s of everyone who happens to be out on the street to make sure they’re not outside their local area. It’s just not something that would be happening here, in my experience. (I of course have zero knowledge of what’s going on in the UK or any other country.)

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          You’ve left at least a dozen comments being very pejorative about the boss and repeating things about the U.K. lockdown that just aren’t accurate or relevant. I don’t know why your assumption is that she is intentionally creeping on the OP rather than that she simply hasn’t realised that what she’s doing might be annoying. (As a lifelong 2nd or 3rd floor flat-dweller, this post has been absolute news to me that people care or even notice what cars are parked in the street outside.) Can I ask why you seem to feel so strongly about this?

          1. UKDancer*

            Also a flat dweller who doesn’t even notice who is parked outside. I live in a large block of flats. I’ve no clue which cars belong to residents and which don’t so odds are it wouldn’t even occur to me to notice. If someone who isn’t a resident parks in our residents car park they’ll get a ticket but that’s their problem.

            On the other hand if you’re in a small village like my aunt and uncle it would probably be a bit more unusual to have someone parking outside their house. But I’m not sure whether my aunt and uncle would notice because their lounge is at the back of the house.

    4. Vic*

      Oh good grief. This isn’t stalking! Please do not minimise actual stalking by equating it with this. That doesn’t help anyone.

      OP just needs to use their words and be direct and matter-of-fact about it. They’ve been hoping the boss will “read between the lines” which makes it clear they aren’t expressing themselves directly. Your suggestions are just more indirect attempts to avoid communicating clearly.

      1. Caradom*

        ‘to review the papers in real time outside my house, sitting in her car for HOURS directly outside my window. I’m not exaggerating: she camps out there for hours, in plain view of my living room, which also currently serves as my office space. ‘

        Sounds a lot like stalking to me. They might not be stalking in the sense of a nutter doing it to you but hours outside her house (Where she can see the workspace) is crossing boundaries, which is essentially a form of stalking. The boss is more than capable of parking further away (Even if it is the same street) rather than watching her in her workspace for hours.

        1. Another British poster*

          But that’s why you talk to her.

          You can’t call the police because your boss being physically vaguely close to you makes you uncomfortable.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes if this is bothering you, you need to use your words to express that. There are several suggestions of polite ways to bring the issue up and suggest the boss parks around the corner / at the supermarket 5 minutes away / by the park. Unless the boss is completely and ridiculously unreasonable this shouldn’t be a major issue. Calling the police is a complete overreaction.

            I think if you want someone to stop doing something the first step has to be to ask them to stop doing it.

        2. Bluephone*

          As someone who has actually been stalked before, what the boss is doing is very much not that.

        3. EventPlannerGal*

          Crossing boundaries is not the same thing as stalking. It just isn’t. I think it is really dangerous to immediately escalate every “somebody is doing something I don’t like” into “this is crossing my boundaries because I don’t like what they’re doing” into “crossing my boundaries is basically a criminal act” into “I’m going to call the police”.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It seems to me that the boss and OP do not have a lot of communication going on. I mean how hard would it be for the boss to say to OP, “I need some quiet space so I will be sitting in my car to read then wait for the papers. I have other work to do and I will be doing that, too.”

      But that is not what happened. OP has no idea that the boss intended to do this regularly. It seems so simple that the boss could have used her words also.

    6. Ana Gram*

      I’m a cop and feelings of discomfort do not equal stalking. In order to be stalked (in my state), a victim must be in reasonable fear of death, injury, or sexual assault from at least 2 occurrences. Parking on a public street just doesn’t meet that standard.

      Also, it would be incredibly awkward to call the police on your boss and then try to maintain a working relationship.

      My guess is she’s trying to get out of the house but that’s just a guess. I like the suggestion to put the blame on the neighbors. Kind of like when I was a kid and used my mom to get out of doing things I didn’t want to do but couldn’t think of an excuse :)

      1. Caradom*

        She can say a neighbour complained like the advice said. Then it would be a stranger who reported her.

        1. Another British poster*

          Are you suggesting she lies to the police? Or makes a police report and lies to her boss that someone else made the report, and pray desperately that the police don’t take things further so her lie is outed?

          There’s no way “lie about your identity” and “phone the police” in the same sentence can end well.

        2. Ana Gram*

          Are you saying she should still call the police but say it was her neighbor who asked her to call? Here’s how that would work. The officer would arrive, talk to the boss, say a neighbor complained, quickly realize nothing was happening, and leave. And the boss would assume the OP was the one who called the police. I don’t suggest calling the police mostly because there’s no reason to call but also because there’s basically no scenario in which the boss doesn’t know/assume the OP called them.

    7. Pretzelgirl*

      This is not stalking. My guess is the boss is just completely oblivious to the fact that its weird to sit in your car for hours on end.

    8. I'm just here for the cats*

      I can understand wanting to call the police or something, or have your neighbor call. But it is a really bad idea. Especially if the boss is a person of color or other marginalized group it could be very anxious. And it might blow back, as the boss might revoke WFH option.

      1. Caradom*

        Someone peering through your window for hours on end is the issue. She could park 1 car space away so she isn’t directly looking at the OP in her home office. It’s similar to someone staring at you in an office.

        1. I'm just here for the cats.*

          But is she actually peering into the window watching or is she just sitting outside? I do t think the LW makes it clear. I can understand that it FEELS like she’s watching.

    9. Malarkey01*

      Not to jump on poster but we desperately need to get away from the idea that “anything that makes you feel uncomfortable” is justifiable police action. In fact it’s the opposite, something that makes you uncomfortable does not give you the right to interfere with another’s lawful behavior. Situation after situation of racial and bigoted behavior this year (and for years and years) is due to people reporting others’ lawful and reasonable behavior in public spaces. Do not be the person who calls the police on your boss!!! or any person sitting in their car on a residential street by claiming you are being stalked.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Good grief. Escalate much?

      The boss is obviously not doing anything illegal. She has a legitimate reason to be there, even if it is socially awkward and the LW doesn’t like it.

      The police don’t exist to “intervene” in minor social discomforts.

      This is like those terrible parents who threaten their children with the police if they don’t eat their vegetables.

      1. WellRed*

        I don’t understand all the comments saying the boss is “staring” “watching” or, FFS “peering in windows.” By their own admission, OP says the boss is reviewing papers. On what sounds like a public street. Sitting in a car. Escalating indeed.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Becoming highly distressed at the idea that anyone who could possibly see you is “watching” you (or judging you) when there is no logical reason to think they are, is a symptom of severe anxiety.

          I have known someone whose social anxiety was so intense that they kept all the windows of their home covered 24/7 for fear that “someone could see in!” Which of course meant they could never look out.

          That was about the time they stopped leaving the house for fear someone would see them. Not see them undressed or see them doing anything embarrassing, just see them…existing.

          It’s a terrible way to live.

  9. Anonymous for this*

    I understand that documents are often in paper form, but there’s no reason they can’t be turned into PDFs. Life doesn’t have to be this difficult. Someone just needs a scanner.

    1. Mr Cholmondley-Warner*

      Or sometimes all you need to do is learn how to use electronic signatures.
      I have been trying to introduce it at my workplace, where we print thousands of pages, just to sign them and scan them again. Such a waste of paper and time. Unfortunately I’m just a lowly drone, so I might as well be talking to a wall.

      1. Cat Tree*

        You might get more traction with a data security approach, especially if you have to keep all the hard copies. It’s a lot harder to misplace or spill coffee on an electronic document especially if you have a backup server.

        But people are super resistant to change so it will still be a hard sell.

      2. Dave*

        Electronic signatures don’t always fly. I have a similar I need paper document issue and have them dropped off on my porch regularly. Thankfully no one is weird about it, although to be honest the way my place is angled they could be outside for hours and I wouldn’t really notice.

        1. Shad*

          Yup. I’m a notary, and without a separate e-notary certification (I don’t have this and don’t know those rules), I have to watch a physical signature and add my own physical signature in order for it to be valid. My state has added exemptions so I can watch via videoconferencing software and have their signed copy scanned to me as part of their covid response, but the signatures at both ends still need to be physical.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this.
      Although to be fair, if the boss doesn’t have a printer-scanner-copier already, it’s probably going to come across a bit oddly if the LW suggests it.

    3. BubbleTea*

      There are certain legal documents that have to have “wet ink signatures”, aka signed on paper. I certainly would agree that it is daft to require this, but it happens.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Without going into detail, I am tearing out my hair at the inflexibility of certain government departments who think it’s totally reasonable to continue require witnessed, notarised or even legalised documents with precisely no pandemic contingency. Wet ink is difficult enough without involving third parties!

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’ve had to sign legal documents that were handed to me during this pandemic. The barrister himself came to my door with them (pre arranged) and I got my best pen.

    5. Asenath*

      There are still some documents, in some work places, which require actual physical signatures. And then there’s the vast majority which could easily be scanned and emailed, and, if really necessary, signed electronically. Like Mr Cholmondley-Warner, I had little success in encouraging electronic signatures in my former workplace, and the few who used them often used them on documents which also required one and sometimes two signatures from people who appeared to be oblivious of the existence of electronic signatures. That didn’t work well. But I can certainly imagine a workplace in which at least some documents had to be signed and moved around manually.

    6. Gumby*

      I mean, my parents just bought a house and did most of the signatures *on their phones*. But there was still something that required a wet signature. It was something relatively minor like the authorization for a house inspection. Eye-rolly and inconvenient but necessary. [Their PHONES!]

      Though I do know of several forms for work which, even if they come to us as pdfs, need wet signatures. OTOH, there are some online systems that have a name typed in all caps as the “signature” which makes me desperately uncomfortable in the other direction; let me just fill out this form and type the CEOs name… (I didn’t. But I could have. And that seems like a pretty big problem to me.)

    7. MCMonkeybean*

      There are definitely still things that require an actual with-a-pen non-electronic signature on official non-scanned copies (referred to as a “wet signature” but I hate the sound of that haha). It’s an issue we’ve had to deal with in my job during the pandemic; some places we work with have waived the requirement under these extreme circumstances but others have not.

  10. RG*

    I have a hunch that the boss of OP #1 doesn’t have an area at home that is relatively secluded, and so there’s a steady stream of noise and interruptions due to children in virtual school and/or adults also working remotely. This might be the most peace and quiet she’s had in a work environment since last March. Still weird though.

    As for OP #5: don’t you have to account for tax issues when an employee resides in another state?

    1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      Yes, on the individual level. I think the literal process is that throughout the year, you’re paying taxes to the state you work in. (I think there is a more specific plan just for out-of-state commuters to NYC because it’s so common.) Later on, that is refunded and you pay out to the state you live in. Either that or you pay both at once and eventually your non-residential state taxes are refunded. These days, turbotax and its ilk take care of that for you. The point is that this isn’t an issue the way it would be if the employee were physically working in a different state.

      1. Cj*

        Not a problem for the employer, but the employee does owe taxes to the state they work in, and their wh to that state is not refunded. You report the same income to your home state, but get a credit for taxes paid to the state you work yet. This is assuming the two states don’t have reciprocity.

    2. Little Fox*

      Re: #5 I live in a tri-state area and all 3 states have reciprocal tax agreements. So I only have to pay taxes for the state I live in, not the one I work in. I’m not sure on the employer side what they have to do?

  11. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Related to #2: Do job placement agencies (like temp agencies for example), also have such a quota? I arrived at a job interview at one yesterday for an internal recruiting position (the hiring manager contacted me Monday about my application), and when I got there was told by the secretary that the job was already filled but “Make use of our services by filling out this form”. The hiring manager was in the office, never came out to see me, and I waited an hour to meet for 5 minutes with someone who said he could possibly place me in a different company in a semi-related position. Was this just a failure on their part to let me know if was filled or a bait and switch?

    1. Mockingbird*

      I did interviews for a staffing firm for a short time and was glad I could afford to quit when it became clear they had no intention of placing the people I was interviewing, didn’t even want me to put any useful details in their records about them or their interviews, but were just bringing them in to meet some corporate quota. I was never even told what, if any, positions they were filling. I’ve lost count of all the job interviews I’ve had, and I definitely had ones where I was filling a quota of candidates they had to meet, but at least the jobs existed.

      1. PT*

        Oh good, because I have used staffing agencies and this has been my experience with them. I left online reviews for their business stating such, too.

    2. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      Staffing agencies often post completely fake jobs or keep re-posting the same ad over and over, with the intention of drawing in applicants for worse positions.

    3. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      That’s not been my experience with staffing agencies. That said, since the agencies I dealt with had SO many hopeful candidates, you had to keep calling in to remind them of your existence.

      Once I got a temp contract and did well, then it was easy to keep getting more.

      That said: I did have a “fail” moment with a couple of them where it was clear they were only collecting resumes for future use (and the ad online didn’t quite make that clear – “And keep calling in each week!”) and another agency would continue to call me every few months to make sure my resume was still good and ask about my availability. That second agency eliminated the “keep calling” part by posting ALL of their temp positions online and I could submit my candidacy to any one I wanted. Which was great for my EI report but it never resulted in a callback. Go figure.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      Sounds like something that happened to me. Like Alison said, bait and switch seems to be common at some staffing agencies.
      I applied for a specific job that sounded great, even if it was part time. I went to the staff agency and when I finally got in with the interview she said that that position was not available, hadnt been posted, and said that I had applied for a completly different job. Then she started trying to sell me on these other places that I did not want to do. I don’t drive and everything she was giving me was over an hour drive away. I told her this in the interview while she was pulling stuff up but she still kept trying to tell me about these other places.

    5. pope suburban*

      I had something similar happen to me when I was applying for my current job. The hiring was direct, but we do our skills testing through a staffing agency. When I went in for my testing appointment, the staffing agency people were very aggressive about trying to get me to sign up with them- when I was there on behalf of their client! I had to get pretty forceful with them, and it made me think very poorly of at least that office, and to an extent the whole organization. It seemed so scummy and predatory; imagine someone thinking that they had to give their information to these people in order to take the skills test for the job they actually wanted! It wasn’t a shock to me because, unfortunately, I’d worked for a handful of such agencies during the aftermath of the 2008 recession, and I knew what I was dealing with here. I know that the concept of staffing agencies is useful, but overall I’m far from impressed with the way they currently tend to manifest and operate.

  12. dodubln*

    Totally different take on LW#1 situation, FWIW: My boss has been sheltering in place with an alcoholic husband and a DD adult son since March. She was losing her shit. I encouraged her to come to my house, as we live in the same town, and to feel free to park outside my house and do paperwork, payroll, etc. When she is ready for me to come out of my house to get payroll or whatever, she texts me, and I get it from her. We usually chat (safely) for 10-15 minutes. These “breaks” for her outside her house have saved her sanity. So…I have no idea what is going on with the LW’s boss, but you never know. She could be crossing a line she doesn’t realize she is crossing, or she could legit just be trying to save her own sanity, and not realizing the discomfort she is causing to her employee/their spouse. So this is a “use your words” situation to figure out what is what.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      And that makes perfect sense to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if boss’s situation were similar.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t think it would be appropriate or helpful for people to assume that anyone who seems to be loitering in a strange way is trying to escape a horrific home life.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Likewise, my boss had some serious life events going on all through this. Some days I was the only person she spoke with who wasn’t talking about her life events.

      But my boss told me. So I knew why things were going the way they were. No discomfort happened because everything was out in the open.

    3. Pretzelgirl*

      This def crossed my mind as well. It even could simply be she has small kids at home and this outing helps her sanity as well. My husband and I take turns running essential errands and exercising (at home or outside). I walked nearly everyday during the summer/fall and sometimes winter. I get super stir crazy, in my small house with 3 kids under 10.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I had terrible roommates one summer in college and I would go sit in my car with a book and a flashlight for hours in a public parking lot (not idling) to get out of my apartment. And there wasn’t a pandemic then. Doesn’t seem so outlandish to me.

      1. pancakes*

        You don’t think there’s a significant difference between parking in a public lot vs. parking in front of a coworker or employee’s home for hours each day? I think those are two very different scenarios.

    5. Esmeralda*

      But you invited her, and you knew her situation.

      I agree w LW 1, it’s creepy. Too close to #MeToo situations I’ve been in. Aren’t we always saying, trust your gut? Yes, best to ask the boss to please not park in front of the house and foist the blame on the neighbors.

      Let me also point out that LW no doubt feels they can’t just go out for a break and work in the yard, take a walk, get the mail, whatever, because the boss is watching and LW no doubt feels that they’d have to go greet the boss to be polite. And maybe LW does not want to have the boss watching her AT HER HOUSE. I love my supervisors, they’re great. I do not want them hanging out in front of my house. If they need to get out of their own space for whatever reason, they don’t have to do it in MY space.

    6. Observer*

      In addition to what everyone else pointed out – there is a very significant difference between what you are describing and what is happening here. The OP’s office is actually operating, and to the extent that Covid rules are not being followed it’s the Boss’ doing! So this is not a situation where the boss needs to “escape” something.

    7. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      But no one is saying to assume anything. As dodubin said, “So this is a ‘use your words’ situation to figure out what is what.” I concur.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t think trying to figure out what the boss’s home life is like should be part of the conversation or goal here at all, though.

  13. CatBookMom*

    FWIW, back in the bad olden days, I went to work for a company in midtown-LA, where the in-building parking was way pricey, so a lot of people paid to park across the street in a very unsupervised lot. Until, the week before I started, a partner’s secretary was abducted at knife-point at about 5pm from that parking lot, etc. That was the news in my new-employee info; announcing that the company had convinced the building to let people park inside for cheap, but only for entry after 6pm. Not many takers. I immediately went for the 10+% paycut, to have my car inside all day, with some values of ‘security.’

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yup. Job interviews are important, but there is nothing wrong (at all!) with saying, “That doesn’t work for me, can we do something after 9am?”

      I assume time difference situation, but regardless of the reason, it’s actually ok to push back. And if the company says 6am or never, then that’s usually not a job worth pursuing.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I’m more concerned that the hiring manager did it while driving. First, that’s unsafe even if she’s using hands-free bluetooth. But also, wouldn’t she want to take notes and view the resume during the interview? This is not someone I would want to work for.

      1. A*

        Agreed in regards to this being for an interview – but I don’t think it’s inherently unsafe to be on the phone on a hands-free device. During non-COVID times I have to do this all the time as I’m on the road a lot for work and still have meetings to call into. It’s really not uncommon.

        (note: I recognize that it is safer to not be distracted at all while driving. Not trying to say otherwise. But there’s a big leap between it being ‘unsafe’ and it being less than ideal. Same goes for eating while driving etc.)

    3. Firecat*

      I feel like OP needs to realize they got valuable information about both of these companies.

      I totally get being annoyed – they were annoying! But the first employee demonstrated so little regard for your time, that suggests they’d do the same if you were an employee. This was reinforced by the manager calling you while driving. That means attending meetings while driving is so common place they felt comfortable hosting an Interview while doing so.

      The second group proved themselves rude and forgetful at best, flippant at worst. Either way the result is the same – you don’t want to work there!

  14. cncx*

    piggybacking off of OP2, what is driving me crazy right now is i have in house recruiters cold calling me during office hours for what turn out to be half hour phone screens and like…i’m still employed. I have read enough AAM and Evil HR Lady to know that sometimes for HR ppl it is easier to do actual interview scheduling over the phone because trying to put everything together turns into a big game of phone tag but this isn’t scheduling…this is they want me to drop whatever it is i am doing and do a 30 minute phone screen on my current employer’s time and it is ANNOYING ME TO NO END. i’ve already written off two companies for this. I try so hard to be sensitive to hiring managers and HR right now, i know everyone is doing their best but like…if you want people to still be employed when you hire them then don’t make them stop their job that is still paying them to tick your box.

  15. cncx*

    piggybacking off of OP2, what is driving me crazy right now is i have in house recruiters cold calling me during office hours for what turn out to be half hour phone screens and like…i’m still employed. I have read enough AAM and Evil HR Lady to know that sometimes for HR ppl it is easier to do actual interview scheduling over the phone because trying to put everything together turns into a big game of phone tag but this isn’t scheduling…this is they want me to drop whatever it is i am doing and do a 30 minute phone screen on my current employer’s time and it is ANNOYING ME TO NO END. i’ve already written off two companies for this. I try so hard to be sensitive to hiring managers and HR right now, i know everyone is doing their best but like…if you want people to still be employed when you hire them then don’t make them stop their job that is still paying them to tick your box.

  16. cncx*

    piggybacking off of OP2, what is driving me crazy right now is i have in house recruiters cold calling me during office hours for what turn out to be half hour phone screens and like…i’m still employed and really only casually putting feelers out. I have read enough AAM and Evil HR Lady to know that sometimes for HR ppl it is easier to do actual interview scheduling over the phone because trying to put everything together turns into a big game of phone tag but this isn’t scheduling…this is they want me to drop whatever it is i am doing and do a 30 minute phone screen on my current employer’s time and it is ANNOYING ME TO NO END. i’ve already written off two companies for this. I try so hard to be sensitive to hiring managers and HR right now, i know everyone is doing their best but like…if you want people to still be employed when you hire them then don’t make them stop their job that is still paying them to tick your box.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      IME, it’s pretty unusual to have in house recruiters call to schedule a time or even do the phone screen on the fly. Agency recruiters, yeah. In house? Nope. I work with recruiters in my day to day and calling people to schedule a phone screen is just not done. It’s not efficient and doesn’t make sense when emails with scheduling links (whether in the ATS or external like Calendly) are available.

      I think the last time I had a recruiter or HM call me to schedule a time for a call was 2013, and even then it was still unusual. Email is king. I think you were right in writing off the two companies that attempted this. Recruitment isn’t always representative of the company as a whole, but it can drive you batty when it’s inefficient!

      1. cncx*

        it’s wild, right after i wrote that comment a third company’s in house recruiter basically catfished me (the whole “let’s talk about a job” no really i just want your cv to put in my numbers for the month) and…i’m tired. I don’t know if this is a covid thing with people acting like this or if this is the future of work in my region at this point.

  17. Maxie*

    My immediate reaction to your boss parked outside your house for hours is that it is creepy. My 1st thought was that your boss doesn’t trust you actually working at home. I remember a letter a couple of years ago about somebody working at home and their boss driving by their house frequently. That was also seriously creepy.
    I did consider other people’s thoughts about her wanting an escape from something at home or the office, but there are too many other places she could sit in her car that are not directly outside her employee’s living room window. (It sounds like the house is not set back very far from the street. I live in a residential neighborhood and when I needed to escape the house to have a phone call private from my teenager, I would drive a few blocks but make sure to not park directly in from off someone’s house. I usually choose a spot on the side of a corner lot or along a long fence.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      The only form of exercise I can get at the moment is driving my car (older car, manual gears) and I love the time on my own out of the house. So I have a couple of regular slots in the week to just take the car out and drive. When I park up for a bit of quiet time there’s a commercial estate nearby where all the shops are closed. So peaceful :)

    2. Generic Name*

      Exactly! So many people are rushing to the boss’ defense as to why she’s actually not creepy, but in my opinion, sitting outside of someone else’s house for hours on multiple different days is objectively creepy . Sure, there could be Reasonable Reasons for it, but boss has not offered any up to the OP. The boss could park literally anywhere besides in full view of your front window and still accomplish whatever it is that she’s doing (unless of course the actual goal is to monitor you I suppose).

      OP, I’m sorry your boss is so clueless, and I’d be uncomfortable too if I were in your shoes. Your boss won’t take hints, but hopefully she’ll stop after you ask her to.

      1. Colette*

        So if I carpool with a coworker and show up 10 minutes before she’s ready on a regular basis, that’s creepy?

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Please re-read the comments. It’s referring to being parked outside for HOURS at a time. 10 minutes early isn’t creepy.

        2. MCMonkeybean*

          No, but if you carpool with a coworker and show up many hours before she’s ready on a regular basis than that would be…

      2. Shan*

        Yes! It’s not like “directly in front of your direct report’s front window” is the only place this person can park and sit in their car. On numerous occasions I’ve gotten in my car after leaving someone’s house and then parked further down the block to do something that will take more than a minute or two, or to kill time before heading to my next appointment. Because the person in the house I just left is going to be aware I’m there, and is going to be wondering why I haven’t left.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Funny how comments come across differently to different readers.

        I haven’t seen *anyone* say that this is perfectly fine and LW should ignore it because it’s not a problem.

        I have seen a number of people saying that the boss shouldn’t be villified as a criminal, and will probably stop doing this intrusive annoying thing if the LW would just Use Their Words.

  18. Bobina*

    OP4: if its team/work goals – its really not that unusual to share them with a team. Often because there might be things that are interrelated. So if part of your goals is to increase the number of widgets produced from X to Y, it is useful for (for example) your manufacturing teammate to know that so they can plan accordingly. Or they might say that because all the machines are old, you’re unlikely to meet that target because the higher production volume will make the machines break more often – so either you need to adjust your target or the two of you need to make a business case for upgrading the machines.

    Tl;dr – its not weird to share professional, work related goals with a team. Personal goals like training courses or management ambitions or whatever are between you and your boss.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes we’re expected in my company to share our professional goals for the year with the other team leaders in the company. So when we meet together we discuss our goals and how we can help each other achieve them. These are things like “increase widget production” or “produce x more green widgets” or “achieve an x% increase in social media coverage of our widgets.”

      It’s useful to know what other parts of the company are trying to achieve.

      Personal goals are different. We are encouraged to discuss them with our managers on an individual basis but we don’t wind up sharing them.

    2. Allonge*

      Yes! Quite often we have shared goals even for soft stuff, team building and so. The whole point is that everyone knows that it’s a goal for all of us.

      I also don’t see a major issue in sharing professional development goals as such, but this is very much a question of work / company culture, and certainly not if it’s part of a PIP-type situation.

    3. allathian*

      Our individual work goals are derived from the team goals, so it’s natural to discuss all of them together. We also talk about any training courses or seminars with the rest of the team, once they’ve been approved by our manager.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        We don’t make people share their goals but we do encourage when the employee is comfortable. We set our own goals but they are rarely super personal. Several people choose cross-training in other areas of our department, so it’s useful to know if Monica and Rachel are both working with archives this year so that when you get an archives question you can’t answer and Phoebe the archivist is on vacation, you know who else might be able to help. In this scenario, it’s also useful for Monica to know that Rachel is also working with archives, so they can go to each other for help or support as needed.

        In fact, now that I think about it I’ve never considered work goals to be confidential the way I do other employee information. If I know that my employee Joey wants to learn chocolate teapots and someone on the chocolate teapots team is looking for someone to help with a project, I’m going to let them know that’s an interest of Joey’s–I see part of my job as helping Joey find opportunities, even if they aren’t directly in his job description. But again, our goals don’t tend to be super personal and if someone told me not to share their goal, I wouldn’t. I guess my point is that I can see benefits to others you work with knowing your goals, provided they aren’t super personal.

    4. Jonquil*

      Where I work we have a team plan, which we then use to develop our individual goals. Managers work with their teams to set out work accountabilities, goals and measures of success for the year in the team plan, and then meet one-on-one with individual contributors to clarify each person’s contribution to the team goals as well as any individual goals for the year.

  19. Volunteer Enforcer*

    OP #2 I can relate. My team works on the same site as a school; the school doesn’t give us any parking spaces, despite easily having enough spaces going spare for the small number of team members who drive. I suppose my situation is better though as there is ample enough free street parking nearby.

  20. Lady Heather*

    OP1, depending on your street parking situation, you may be able to use your own car or ask a neighbour to use their car to block the parking spots that allow for your boss to see inside.

    Curtains may work as well, those thin see-through things work pretty well during the day. (When it’s lighter outside than inside, you can’t see in – when it’s darker outside than inside you can.)

    Or just talk to your boss.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP3: Definitely been there with the ‘move your car every two hours’ bit. I am in the UK and one firm refused to let me park in the disabled bay every day – telling me I was legally allowed to park on the double yellow lines (true, but only if you’re not obstructing traffic and it’s only for a couple of hours). They claimed their senior management had more right to all close parking spots than I did (none of them were disabled).

    Initially I tried the ‘it’s not fair’ approach. Naturally that didn’t work. Then I tried invoking the law, basically got a ‘go ahead, it’s our property and we can say who parks where’.

    What did work in the end was actually costing out how much the company was paying me to haul my carcass down several floors, into the street, move the car a few metres, get back to the office multiple times a day. I even had to drop a call from a client once because I had to move the car. Presented that to my boss who actually agreed that yeah, that was a waste of time and money and risking having clients hear about people having to shift cars around.

    I got the parking space.

    I hope you get some assistance too. I treat all my staff the same, the part time techie is the same as my full time techie. You’re worth the same.

    1. Miss Anon*

      There’s a regional headquarters near where I live where the director’s parking spots are immediately in front of the door and the disabled parking spots are a couple meters further away.

      Optics, people! Optics! Does what you lose in PR really make up for the directors having a 20 meters shorter commute?

      As for this parking situation – ideally there’d be “revolving parking permit” that parttime staff could use, so that one permit can serve Coworker A on Monday and Friday and Coworker B Tue to Thu, but that’s probably not possible now that everything is tied to license plates.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        That’s what two of my part timers did (until one left). There was overlap on Thursdays but I think they alternated weeks then.

        Luckily though the parking spaces were allocated x amount per company and as long as we have a list of names to security they’d wave them through. Was never tied to number plates (thank god, my car got totalled one year and I was driving rentals)

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      So it sounds like they wouldn’t allow you to park in the handicapped spot even though you are handicapped? If I’ve got that right that’s a big problem. I know you’re in the UK and it might be different but here in the US handicap spots are still covered by the law. So even if they are on private property the police or parking authority has the right to fine or tow anyone parked without the Handicap license plate or placecard.

      Sorry you had to deal with that.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh yeah, I got a disabled badge and they maintained their disabled spots were for ‘higher management’ only. I know now that the law would have backed me up but I’d only just started at that firm and didn’t want to start flinging the police at them!

        (They’d let me park in the disabled bay for my interview)

      2. Miss Anon*

        Here (not UK) it’s not the case! Private parking lots are allowed to tow your car if you use a handicap spot without a handicap parking license, but you won’t get ticketed. I haven’t ever been towed either.

        Where I live you don’t get a handicap parking license as a passenger unless you can’t be left alone. The thinking is: your driver can get you and your wheelchair from the car at the curb, and then you can wait there until the driver has found a place and walked back. The passenger handicap parking license essentially restrictedto people who will wander off into traffic when left unsupervised.
        Unfortunately, that means going through the lengthy process of unloading a passenger and their wheelchair in places not designed to safely do so, like at the curbs of busy streets or in low-visiblity parking lots or garages. Therefore, when there are many open accessible parking spaces – hospital parking lots often have plenty – and those spaces are wide enough for my wheelchair to reach the passenger door, we prefer to avoid the unsafe unloading situation and use those spaces instead.

        (You should feel free to judge me or cuss at me for doing that. I won’t care. I care more about not getting hit by cars than I care about your opinion in this matter.)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Mate, I park in the ‘parents with kids’ spaces when the disabled bays are full (I desperately need extra room to get in/out my car). I’m no paragon!

          1. Miss Anon*


            I wasn’t worried about you specifically – you seem to have a very reasonable “If things can’t the way it should, then things should the way it can!” approach to life!

    3. WFH with Cat*

      Good grief! Talk about not getting the point.

      I worked at one place where the HR manager (!) insisted on parking in the handicapped spots because they were closest to the main entrance. One day, she parked on striped area between two handicapped spots. Yes, the area that specifically makes them handicapped spots. No, it’s not wide enough for parking. Yes, she did block doors on both vehicles. No, I could not even guess how she managed to get out of her own vehicle after parking.

      And, no, I did not key her car.

      But I really wanted to.

  22. UShoe*

    LW5 – I was wondering if you think this may be a concern why not just mention it in your cover letter? Not in a big way, but in that closing paragraph that always feels awkward anyway you could just say, “I am based in STATE, but my home is only a short fifteen-minute commute from TOWN and I would be happy to meet to discuss this role at your convenience.”

  23. Bazza635*

    #1 I’m sorry but this is creepy, there are so many places this woman could park and do her work. When you know she’s coming over to give you paperwork, park one of your car(s) or your neighbours car in front of the house, stopping her parking there. Out of interest, is she also using your internet? What happens when she needs the toilet, is she knocking on the front door, to use yours or does she drive away and goes to McDonalds and then comes back.

    Alternatively tell her she makes you uncomfortable sitting in front of the house all day, especially when your windows look out that way. Does she occasionally does she sit in front of other employees places or are you the chosen one?

  24. I should really pick a name*

    If you can do your job remotely, but you’re only allowed to do so because you have health issues, your boss is not flexible. Anyone who can work from home should be doing it right now, not just people with health issues.

    Regarding the actual issue, would closing the curtains so you can’t see your boss is there help? It would also deal with any concerns about being spied on.

  25. HR ParksHere*

    OP1, Google Docs and other cloud based document services give you the ability to collaborate on a document. She could add comments and such and not have to have the physical document. This sounds to me more like she has no idea how to use technology then she is spying on you.

  26. doreen*

    LW #3 are there any other differences between part-time and full-times employees? You say you don’t work for the city but the city provides the parking passes. I am in a similar situation as I work for a state agency and the city government provides parking placards (that allow street parking without paying meters etc) to some of my agency’s employees. It’s based on the employees’ job title and assignment (whether they do field visits ) , not on whether they are full or part time but in some jobs there are only certain jobs held by part-time workers.

    1. LW3*

      LW3 here. In terms of benefits, there are absolutely differences between part-time and full-time employees. Part-timers are also more front-of-line staff, but honestly in my field, public libraries, it has become increasingly difficult to find full-time employment, even for those of us with Masters degrees, which librarianship requires, just due to the cost savings of not having to provide benefits to most staff members. It’s really disheartening, and I personally work two part-time jobs to compensate, but as such do not have health coverage.

      As to whether we are part of the city or not, it seems like the city gets to selectively choose when we’re considered a division of the municipality – for instance, they have to audit our wages to make sure that everyone across the city, including us, is compensated at equivalent levels. But after this audit, they do NOT have to provide increased funding to cover the often substantial wage increase that they now require us to implement. This has led to layoffs of great employees.

      1. doreen*

        I didn’t mean differences in benefits so much as I meant differences in jobs. For example, I get a parking placard because my assignment requires me to travel around the city. Support staff doesn’t get one because they don’t travel on a daily basis. If all the part-timers at my job were support staff and all or most of the full-timers had to travel , it might look like the difference was part-time vs full-time even though it was actually based on the job.

        1. LW3*

          There used to be clear-cut differences. More senior roles were full time; entry level roles were part time. Our new hiring practices though over the past few years have been moving towards hiring almost all part time, including senior roles, so it’s a little bit more fuzzy now.

      2. mdv*

        LW3, I am dying to know if you live in my midwestern university town, because enough of the details of your parking situation match almost exactly to the situation in our downtown area. Do you work across the street from a busy bus stop, with the main post office to the north?

        It seems completely outrageous to me that there would be a differentiation between part time and full time employees. Parking passes should be an all or nothing deal, if they are being provided by city or by employer.

  27. Snark no more!*

    For OP 1, why not get inexpensive scanners and then print out the documents to be reviewed? You can buy an all-in-one device for around $250 in my area. Then you don’t have to touch any paper but your own.

    Pardon if this has already been suggested.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Depending on the number of papers it could become really expensive to print out. Not only the printer cost but the ink and paper. And it sounds like there might be a lot of paper if it takes hours for the boss to review before giving them to the OP.

      Unless the company legally needs it to be printed I think the best solution would be to go digital.

  28. Alice*

    I get that it’s annoying and expensive to pay for parking as an employee. And I agree that the employer should bear those costs rather than externalizing them. But I also want to point out that street parking is massively subsidized by taxpayers and downtown garages have a huge opportunity cost. Really a complex problem.

  29. Salad Daisy*

    #5 I live right on the state line and have worked in both states. Most employers are not geographically challenged when it comes to their local are but if the hiring manager is not local you could say, for example, 123 Main Street, Nashua, NH (greater Boston area).

    As for the tax ramifications of living in one state and working in another, you should definitely speak to your tax advisor. You would need to file two different state returns unless one of the states did not have an income tax, and that can get tricky for the uninitiated. You should receive a credit in your home state for any income taxes paid to the work state up to what the home state’s tax for that income.

  30. Blisskrieg*

    I did a quick screen, but I apologize if someone above already mentioned. The 6 am interview–I’m thinking the interviewer might be in a different time zone and didn’t connect that it was really early for you. I’m on conference calls daily with different teams around the country, and I’ve certainly seen mix ups around time zones…

    1. TextHead*

      This was my thought, too. Time zones are the worst and I’ve made a fair share of mistakes with them and have had others make them with me. I typically send out my calendar over suggesting times these days, which helps.

  31. Heidi*

    I once went to a retreat where they asked us to share goals. But the way they asked was, “Write a news story about this organization dated 5 years from now.” So my weird brain interpreted this as a creative exercise, so when it was time to share, everyone else talked about how they streamlined their processes or increased the national profile of the organization, and my story was about flying robot avatars making house calls for us.

  32. Haha Lala*

    LW #1-
    Can you get one of your neighbors to help you out?
    You can tell them what’s happening, ask them not to mention you, and then let them know when she’s been parked outside too long. Your neighbor could knock on her window and ask what’s she’s doing, why she’s there, and ask her to move somewhere else. If someone I didn’t know was parked in front of my house frequently, for hours at a time, I’d want to know what they were doing, so it’s with reason that your neighbors could be curious enough to do this on their own. And that might be enough for your boss to realize that what she’s doing is weird and distracting.

    Also— my dogs do not appreciate people or cars in front of our house at all. They bark if people walk too slowly past or if cars park, and they would go crazy in your situation. I can work through the occasional bark, but there’s no way I could get any work done while the dogs sound all the alarms trying to protect our house from the car. (Don’t get me started on when the mail carrier actually come to the door…) Do you or any neighbors have dogs you can use as scapegoats here?

      1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

        Nah, not really. If OP is going to blame this on the neighbors then it would make sense for at least one neighbor to to have approached boss in the car during one of her extended stays. Let neighbor ask what boss is doing first, and then OP can approach boss with “I’ve gotten a couple of complaints from the neighbors about having a someone sitting in a car outside for long periods of time so we need an alternate arrangement. Let’s move to doing XYZ.”

        1. pancakes*

          It’s simply not necessary. It’s a perfectly reasonable request to make and doesn’t require contriving evidence that neighbors are in fact annoyed.

          1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

            Here’s the thing, we’re assuming the boss is reasonable. But most people who are willing to sit outside their employee’s homes are not usually reasonable. Can OP simply go up to the boss and say “Please stop lurking outside my home for hours on end. It’s weird.” Absolutely. Will that work? Ehh.. Maybe. I hope so!
            What I’ve seen with management is that if their employees ask them to stop doing something, they may or may not do it. If someone outside the company asks them to stop, they do it immediately. It’s kind of like the phenomenon where a kid won’t listen to its mother telling them to behave, but a total stranger saying “Walk, don’t run” will stop a kid in their tracks. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking a neighbor to say something if they see someone in a car for a long period of time. No big production, but it will reinforce to the boss that there is something wrong with what she is doing when OP brings it up to her later. It’s not like we’re suggesting OP call the cops on her boss and blame it on the neighbors!

            1. pancakes*

              The advice Alison gave was not to accuse the boss of “lurking” or call her behavior “weird,” and I don’t think you can generalize about people who sit outside their employees homes as it’s not common at all. A number of commenters have pointed out–wisely, I think–that the boss may be using her car as a calm and quiet place to work without considering how it comes across to park in front of an employee’s home daily. I also don’t agree that it makes sense to compare the boss in this scenario to a disobedient child. The fact that other people have made worse suggestions to involve the police doesn’t make this one advisable, either.

            2. EventPlannerGal*

              Well, quite a few people actually are suggesting that the OP call the cops and blame the neighbours. But also, why is your assumption here that sitting in her car doing paperwork indicates that the boss must be unreasonable? To me it just indicates that she’s oblivious, thinks that this is a convenient spot to do the paperwork and has never realise that it bothers OP so badly. Just… use your words.

  33. Dave*

    OP 3 could you ask for parking to be withheld for the tax benefits so your parking costs aren’t taxed? I am not entirely sure how this is all setup but my partner was able to have this done and is saves a few bucks.
    Depending on how the lots are monitored for access the sharing a tag could be helpful but that isn’t always practical. There could also be a concern that a part time employee would use it to take advantage of free parking even when they are not working.
    As annoying as this is, if money is already tight I would maybe wait on raising this issue until things become more stable because there is a real risk they will put a stop to letting you leave to feed the meter or move your car every few hours.

  34. I'm just here for the cats*

    Not even finishing the other letters to pop over and comment on LW1. Do you have a friendly neighbor who you could ask to knock on the boss’s car door next time she is sitting out front. Maybe if someone confronts her she will get the idea that this is odd.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Also, is parking a problem in your neighborhood? If so you could use that as an excuse. Like, neighbors are complaining because you take up a spot.
      I still think you should get your neighbors together and have a few of them go talk to her. Like lets says she’s there for a few hours. after 45 minutes neighbor A goes out and taps on the window. They could say they were concerned. Then an hour passes and neighbor B comes by while walking dog and ask what they are doing?

  35. Skippy*

    LW3: I’ve had a couple of positions where I worked in a city center, and managed a team of part-time staff who didn’t get subsidized parking or transit passes, and as a manager, it was a real pain. Every day was interrupted by someone having to go out and feed a meter, or someone arriving late because they couldn’t find a place to park. And we constantly lost people because the cost of parking cut into their already small part-time salaries. I would suggest talking to your direct supervisor — they may be feeling it too.

  36. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

    If the workplace in letter #3 is subsidizing parking for employees, I hope they are also doing it for the people who take transit to work. The goal should be to help people get to work, not only reward those with cars.

  37. Moocow Cat*

    # Very strange. Maybe your boss has a bad case of cabin fever and she wants to work in a different space? Anyway. The direct solution of picking up your work due to discomfort from neighbours should work.

  38. Tired of Covid-and People*

    #1: Boss couldn’t get away with this in my suburban community, we call the police when people sit in cars we don’t recognize, for fifteen minutes even. Few cars on the street here, so boss would definitely be noticed. I would find this creepy and annoying, and would just ask boss to stop. Or, call the police, she could be reported anonymously, maybe that would do it. It’s cold where I live, so I doubt this would happen here in the winter, that’s a lot of gas to keep warming up the car. Good luck to you OP, I feel your irritation.

    1. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Note that sitting in a car on a public street is not a crime, but it’s annoying to have the police question you, so this is what may cause boss to stop. We do have a low crime rate, so maybe our hyper-vigilance helps, although I admit it can go overboard sometimes.

      1. Sylvan*

        It’s a bit more than annoying. Please don’t do this if nothing illegal is happening and you’re not concerned about your safety.

        1. Caradom*

          Loitering outside could indicate harassment of someone if you are not a resident on the street. It could also indicate a burglary.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Much more frequently, it indicates needing to pull over for a while to take a phone call, needing to make some notes or fill out some paperwork after leaving your client’s house but before driving to your next appointment, politely taking your lunch break out of the way of the person whose kitchen you’re renovating, troubleshooting your car stereo’s Bluetooth connection, etc. It’s not a reason to call the cops.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        I don’t think this is the fun tip you think it is? Calling the police on people who you think don’t belong in your neighbourhood for sitting in their cars for 15 minutes is not only a massive waste of police time but also a really shitty thing to do to people – the consequences can do far beyond “annoying”, especially for members of marginalised groups. I really do not think you or your neighbours should continue this practice.

      3. That sounds awful :(*

        This is going to sound disingenuous but I promise I do mean it sincerely: I’m sorry that you’re living in a state of mind where, even though you know your risk is low, you are so terrified all the time that you’re calling the police when you see a stranger for a short period of time. I hope things get better for you.

    2. Ann*

      I’d avoid this “solution,” particularly if the boss is a member of a group who could be in danger in an interaction with the police.

    3. Nia*

      Does everyone in your neighborhood live under a rock? Don’t call the police on people minding their own business.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah no. In addition to the obvious “this is how people get killed”, it’s a ridiculous waste of police’s time and our tax money. As I’ve seen it said elsewhere, police is not (group of people’s) customer service.

  39. employment lawyah*

    3. My office doesn’t give part-timers parking
    Be warned:

    YOUR solution is “give us parking passes.”

    THEIR “solution” will probably be “Oh, you’re leaving all the time? You can’t do that. Either bus in, or drive partway to a park-and-ride and bus downtown. Either way you won’t have to move your car.”

  40. Spicy Tuna*

    #3 – at my last job, the company was in a downtown area and owned the parking garage attached to the building. They made money off of charging non-employees for parking, but gave parking passes to employees. They also subsidized employees that used public transportation. Eventually they asked for the employees that received the public transit subsidy to turn in their parking passes. However, they did validate the parking ticket when the public transit people drove in to work. Perhaps your employer could work out some kind of validation deal with a city owned garage? Especially since it’s part time workers and not people that will be parked all day?

  41. Narise*

    OP1 Do you know when she is scheduled to drop off paperwork or does she text you ‘be there at 9’? If so I would leave your house prior to and text her back ‘On my way to you.’ Tell you when you arrive that her parking for hours in the neighborhood is not working. You can either come to her or she needs to park outside of the neighborhood going forward. If she pushes ask her directly “How would you feel if someone parked outside of your home for hours at a time? I’m not comfortable with it and I didn’t say anything because I thought it was short term but this cannot continue.’

  42. Suz*

    OP#3 – We have a similar situation at the non-profit I work for, including having to more your car every 2 hours. Only people at the director level and above get parking. There’s no money in the budget to pay for parking for the rest of us. Their response was if we don’t want to pay for parking, we should take public transit.

  43. Non-prophet*

    OP #5, you say you are in a tiny town. Is it possible your town is so small that the prospective employers don’t recognize it by name/know that it is within 20 minutes?

    If that might be the case, listing the greater metro area might be a solution.

  44. Ann*

    #1: In these COVID times, I’ve become accustomed to spending lots of time in my car–not driving, necessarily, but just parked somewhere, eating something I’ve picked up in a drive-thru, having a zoom meeting on my phone in a parking lot where there is good internet access, and so on. Maybe this boss has become accustomed to conducting business and doing work in her car these days just as I have become accustomed to spending more time than ever in my car. As someone else pointed out, maybe she doesn’t want to spend any time she doesn’t have to in her office in order to avoid contagion. Instead of staying parked outside her employee’s place, she should find a public parking lot in the vicinity to park in, or something like that. Then she can do what she needs to do without making it seem like she is conducting surveillance on the employee.

  45. Dust Bunny*

    #3 Uuuuugh, one of the first jobs to which I applied after college was a major local museum. I had a solid background in both biology and history and they seemed really, really, interested in hiring me, but it was part-time, $6.75 an hour, and I had to pay full fare to park in their garage. I asked about benefits and they suggested that if I got there early I might find a parking spot for free on the surrounding residential streets.

    I did not take the job. They seemed genuinely disappointed.

    What they really wanted was an upper-middle-class mom looking to ease back into work once her kids were in school, not a single twentysomething who needed to support herself. Obviously, they couldn’t say that outright but it was insulting to be offered so little pay for so few hours and also expected to pay for parking. I ended up making significantly more per hour cleaning kennels at a vet’s office, full-time.

    1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      About a decade ago our local science/natural history museum moved from a site that hosts concerts, a bowl game and even the state fair to a downtown location in a major city. Not only did their employees start leaving in droves, but visitor ticket sales dropped massively despite this being a brand new state of the art building and displays. The board members and museum director (who all had reserved spots in the tiny museum parking lot) just couldn’t figure out what was going on. It wasn’t until a reception for the employees to welcome them to the new building that they got a smack to the face when my sister (employed in the education/outreach dept.) asked another employee where they parked and if they had managed to get into the $8 a day lot in front of the museum director that the wheels began turning. The director asked my sister how often she had to pay to park when she came to work. My sister gave the director an incredulous look and said “Everyday. Just like all the other employees without reserved spots.”
      Funny how fast the empty lot next door became a museum parking lot after that.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This particular museum isn’t on a major bus route, either. The other two big museums are at least big bus or light rain stops. This one is at least two buses for almost everyone, even if they live in the city.

        1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

          Ooh yikes! Yeah, they definitely needed a dose of some self-awareness on that one!
          Out of curiosity, did they ask you why you didn’t take the job? Or did you offer them the feedback that that was why you weren’t taking the position?

  46. Vancouver*

    OP5: If we’re assuming potential employers don’t recognize your small town’s name, do you think they’d recognize the county name? That way you can directly and truthfully communicate “I’m local!”.

    1. Sylvan*

      Yeah, that makes sense. Where I am, people typically say that they live in “the City area,” in their county, or just over the state border.

  47. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    OP1 – I’m curious what sort of documents these are? Not the specifics obviously, but what “review” means in this context: is it something where you are ‘editing’ a document together, or more like giving separate approvals/sign offs/decision making on a document that you aren’t actually changing?
    That might help generate some additional suggestions (I know some people have already suggested PDFs etc, which may or may not suit the type of documents they are).

  48. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW3 – I am stuck wondering whether your part-timers are working fewer days or shorter days, e.g. 3x8h v 5x5h. Parking costs longer than a restaurant visit tend to be much the same, so a 5-short-days employee will have exactly the parking burden as a full-timer (and the same commuting costs, unless peak time pricing is avoided).

    I can absolutely see why part-timers would feel aggrieved at this inequity, and if they have been additionally more likely to be lower-paid employees (though you note above that this is becoming less unequal) then that would be extra annoying. Like free daily lunches for executives when there’s no office fridge and the only food options within easy reach are super-expensive cafes.

  49. Ann O'Nemity*

    #3 is so interesting to me, because my organization is the opposite. Full-time employees pay for parking, and part-time employees get free parking! Part-timers work limited hours, and often travel between locations. The only reliable parking at our downtown office is exorbitant monthly passes, which would cost a sizable chunk of part-timers’ paychecks. Although full-timers may grumble about wanting free parking too, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that part-timers should have to pay.

  50. JessicaTate*

    OP3 — If they won’t offer parking passes (because you know what they say about city hall), another idea to make your life easier is: Is there another, less expensive parking lot/garage within walking distance or light rail/bus (if that’s a thing in your city)? My other half worked downtown in our small city and they couldn’t afford to give everyone parking – because it is limited and insanely expensive. Most people took public transit, but he needed to drive. We found some lot options that were a little further away that were less expensive (not free), that are a 2-stop subway ride and/or was a 15-minute walk from the office.

    OP5 — Usually when an employer is near a state border they have a sense of many town names across the border, because you share a region. If your town is so tiny that even local people haven’t heard of it, could you use the name of the next-closest bigger/known border town in your state on your resume? (Your proximity is an asset you shouldn’t have to lose.) Or give a parenthetical if you’re really worried: Llamaville, OR (just over the WA border).

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      #5 may or may not be true, depending on the area. I’ve seen a strange dynamic where the people who live in the small town think they live sooo close to the city, and the people in the city are more insular and may not even recognize the name of the small town or know where it is.

  51. Jean*

    LW1, I’m betting this is just a case of your boss not realizing how this comes across. If I were your boss, and driving out to you to deliver paperwork that I had to review in real time, I might do something similar just to save time and gas. If it’s bothering you that much, just let her know you’d rather be the one to pick them up and drop them off going forward. But I don’t see any reason to take this as her watching you or not trusting you, unless you have some other evidence that would support that conclusion.

  52. not neurotypical*

    #5: Please don’t allow potential employers to believe that you are in-state if you are in fact out of state. It’s not a matter of local vs nonlocal, it’s a matter of cost (in terms of both time and money) of hiring someone in another state. Depending on which states are in play and the size of the org, it just might not make sense for them to hire someone out of state, and you don’t want to get to the offer stage before you tell them that and they have to rescind the offer. I know this because our small nonprofit once hired someone out of state. In addition to having to pay into a second state’s unemployment fund, there was paperwork that continues to this day, even though that person is long gone. Literally, years later, we still have to file monthly and quarterly reports, with the amount of zero, to the second state, which refuses to remove us from their system and insists that we continue to report.

  53. boop the first*

    1. Yeah I agree with others, my first thought wasn’t that she was spying but rather sitting in a seat (hopefully) designed for longterm comfort, in a private space that is so insulated from noise, with natural light and a nicer view than the office while she reads papers completely undisturbed. Sounds great to me! A park sounds better, but maybe being at your house flips a switch in her brain that makes her feel more justified to do it? Police do it a lot around here, it freaks the neighbors out.

  54. In my shell*

    #1 The responses here have been so interesting! I have a different take (though I agree it is super awkward!).

    The most difficult part for me in this situation would be the dreaded anticipation of waiting for boss to get out of the car and come to the door! I can’t imagine waiting for that moment FOR HOURS. omg, that would seriously hinder my work productivity with triggered general and social anxiety! The worst possible kind of drop in –

    If it was reversed and the boss were picking up when she arrived and then worked in her car before leaving I would think it weird, but probably not even notice it.

    1. Caradom*

      It’s even worse if you are deaf like me. I have to listen to for a takeaway delivery so this would just send me bonkers.

  55. Caradom*

    The neighbour excuse is perfect. Her loitering outside for hours doesn’t fit COVID rules. Simply say ‘I’ve explained to the neighbour you’re my boss but they are not interested as no-one outside the street is meant to be here’. I would even follow up with ‘they’ve already reported someone’.

    If she asks who say you can’t possibly say that. Then be insistent.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Covid rules aren’t the same everywhere. There are very few places in the world where people are literally confined to their own street.

  56. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

    For #5, do you think it would help if you put the metro area in parentheses on your resume? I.E. if you live in a small town in SC, but easily can get to Charlotte, NC, then put “Charlotte Metro” on there in some fashion (especially if you have your address on it? That may help recruiters who are in different states but recruiting for their company in a certain location or even recruiters for contract positions.

  57. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    Trying not to thread jack on #1 but serendipitous timing on this…my fairly new grand boss (since April 2020) has just asked all of us to give her executive assistant/her our home addresses. Allegedly so she can mail us…things (????). And it’s stories like this one that cement in my mind that it’s a terrible idea. I just don’t think she has a legitimate business need for my address and, well, I’m suspicious of her reasons on this. Home address can be used for subtle discriminatory purposes — “Oh, you live in THAT area…” that type of dwelling, too far, too close, too expensive, too low-class, too ethnic neighborhood, etc… Coupled with the fact that snail mail is the WORST way to get a hold of me. Really. I’m in an apartment complex that has had multiple mailbox vandalism and mail/package theft problems especially during COVID.

    We track/share all of our work through multiple electronic systems: a proprietary ticket system, Teams, OneDrive, email, Sharepoint, remote login to on-campus servers, etc. HR and Payroll obviously have my address for official university business, and we’ve been electronically accessing and signing documents for years already. In my 15 years here I’ve never given my home address to my boss, let alone any grand boss. I might know the general vicinity of where boss/coworkers live — city, and maybe which section of the town NSEW.

    1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      TBH I think you’ve already solved your problem! Just send the EA a note asking that any items Grandboss wants to send you be sent to the office as you’re being cautious about receiving packages at home due to a recent spate of mailbox vandalism in your neighborhood. If the EA pushes, just cheerfully tell them “It really is easier for me to pop into the office to pick up a package than to worry about potentially not receiving something important.”

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’ve seen this thought process before, and I don’t know if it’s a different-country thing or what.

      Filling out new-employee paperwork (like US tax forms and employment eligibility verification forms) always includes home address and copy of ID. Even working as a freelancer involves submitting your home address for tax purposes.

      Even if you don’t personally give it to your boss, the company has a legitimate reason to have the information. It’s not a secret. I just can’t wrap my head around why this would be perceived as intrusive or inappropriate.

  58. Rebecca1*

    Perhaps the boss in question 1 is the letter-writer in question 3, and is trying to avoid paying for parking.

  59. The Starsong Princess*

    #3 Parking. This reminds me of a place my sister worked years ago. Parking was incredibly expensive but they could park for free on the street at 3 pm or so. At that time, the lots would be cheap and they could park for $5. There was a guy whose desk faced the front of the building and he would have the receptionist announce whenever he saw parking enforcement at 3pm. Every meeting would stop and there would be a mass exodus to move their cars. My sister would get towed now and again but she said after the first time, it was no big deal since the impound was walking distance. She was on a first name basis with the impound guy and he’d call her to say he had her car. From a financial standpoint, it was still a cheaper arrangement than paying for parking in a lot as long as she didn’t get towed more than once a month.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      That’s my experience too. I could pay $400/year for a parking tag to park in university lots (oh, and there’s no guarantee of a parking space being available — first come, first served) or take my chances parking on time-limited city streets and remembering to move my car on time, and far enough away, that enforcement won’t ticket me. In 15 years, I’ve gotten 1 street parking ticket for a total of $50, or occasionally paid $2 for all-day parking in a city lot.

      1. The Starsong Princess*

        Parking in a lot was $25 per day and getting towed was $190 but free parking at the impound. That was downtown Toronto 10 years ago.

  60. JSPA*

    OP1, if she’s not mandating masks, it’s probably safer for all concerned, back at work, if she spends much of the day isolating in her car. If you think of it that way–she has what she feels is a plausible reason to be gone from the office, and she’s taking that option–it may rankle less.

    A lot of people who are anti-mask or anti-mask-rules as a philosophy are still, on some level, increasingly, uneasily aware of the risks.

    Get some curtains, blaming reflections with the low winter sun, if you need an excuse, then let her use her “mobile office” at your curb without having to see it.

    No problem, right? Unless you’d otherwise be stepping out if she were not there…in which case, you can’t feel quite so injured that she expects you’d perhaps be doing so. (I mean, it’s still a workplace where you’re not trusted to handle your own time. But any workplace where you’re on-site and expected to be present unless taking time off is more onerous than that. What you reasonably get from doing WFH is a) safety b) no commute c) the ability to dress comfortably.

  61. pancakes*

    It doesn’t follow that anyone getting the benefit of being able to work from home should make peace with the idea of their boss spending hours and hours each day directly outside their home.

  62. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Weird question and I’m only semi-serious here when I ask, but Where does OP1’s boss go to the bathroom?
    OP says boss is parked outside for “hours” but doesn’t specify how many so for all we know boss could be there anywhere from 2- 8 hours. Does OP mean an hour a day, 2?4? 6? The bathroom issue probably doesn’t pop up for only 2 hours at a time, but I’m curious. Has this ever come up? Has the boss ever asked to come inside OP’s house for any reason?

    Like I said not a totally serious question, but I gotta admit I’m curious.

  63. Sharon*

    Really what you should be looking at is whether the work and the pay provided is worth the hassle and expense of working there, including the commute. It doesn’t really matter whether the full-timers get different benefits.
    Paying several hundred a MONTH for parking or transit is very normal in big cities. Good jobs downtown pay enough for the employee to cover that cost; however, if you’re working for a downtown McDonalds or something, you need to take a hard look about whether it’s worth it after deducting your work-related expenses from your income (maybe you live downtown, or carpool, or already have a bus pass so there’s not a lot of added expense.)

    1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      Right out of college I interviewed for and was offered an entry-level job in big city that I lived in the suburb of. The job wasn’t great or even good, but I graduated 2 years after the 2008 bubble burst and it was an employer’s market. The company was housed in a building that had an attached parking garage that all the employees of all the companies in the building were free to use. If they paid the $12 A DAY parking fee. The salary they offered me was only $28k. Meaning that my hourly rate was only just $13. Even in that market I turned it down.
      When I turned down the job they asked for feedback on why. I flat out told them that the math didn’t work. I would be spending the first hour of everyday working just to pay for my parking for the day and that I would be spending 11% of my yearly salary to park. I don’t think anyone had every broken it down for them like that because they were flabbergasted.

  64. officed_*

    #1- I think a lot of people are glossing over the part where OP 1 says they could be back in the office already if masks and COVID safety protocols were mandated, meaning the office is open, so it’s not like the boss is working from home as well and needs somewhere to do work. Considering the boss won’t mandate common sense health precautions and yet has the office open, I would bet on her not totally trusting that OP really needs to be WFH and wants to check up on her. This letter gives me the same vibe as the one where the boss wanted employees to have a video Zoom call running all day. Not sure why so many people are defending the boss when it’s even creepier to park outside someone’s living room for hours unnecessarily.

    1. Observer*

      Yes, the fact that the office is open and the boss is refusing to enforce safety measures is significant, in my opinion.

  65. Oversharing*

    OP4, I worked for a short time at an organisation that made us share our personal goals with the group, which was deeply awkward seeing this happened after I had worked there all of four days. I just said something about wanting to build my career on x topic and improve my skills in a language. Six months later when I told the manager I would not be renewing my contract (it was a short term role) and had found something else more in line with what I wanted to do longer term he brought back the things I had said at that sharing session to try to pressure me to stay and it was very uncomfortable! Especially since I hadn’t revealed my deepest desires because it was all so weird. And also that I was in my late 20s so had a lot of different goals and paths I wanted to try out. Meanwhile I have been in the org I left that job to join for eight years now lol. So yeah only say something you are prepared to have brought up again later, and also keep your eyes open to check these things aren’t being used for manipulation/pigeonholing people.

  66. Tisiphone*

    #1 – I’m curious to know if your boss is working while parked in front of your house or if she’s just sitting there not working and if she’s burning through mobile phone data usage or if she’s found a WiFi she can piggyback onto. Staying there for hours not logging into work won’t endear her to her own manager if she’s not getting other work done. In the end, this doesn’t really matter. Either way it’s ridiculous. Do speak up.

  67. ResuMAYDAY*

    Most ATS programs pull your zip code. If you’re within a certain radius, they’ll know you’re close enough. I don’t think your address is the problem, but (as a resume writer), I suggest you only list your city/state/zip. Not house numbers/street.

  68. Catabodua*

    I’m surprised at how many folks immediately went to malicious intent (spying on the employee) vs a person who probably is parking there for their convenience (it’s quieter than working at home, the traffic to get there can be unpredictable) and hasn’t given any thought to the fact that it might be making their employee uncomfortable.

    I’d never be able to do it because I must pee constantly, but I can easily see how someone would do this.

    Having said that, since it is making the employee uncomfortable, the employee should try to get a different arrangement in place.

  69. Catabodua*

    For # 3 I worked in a large city and the company provided paid parking on site for the salaried employees but did not provide parking for the hourly employees. It was ridiculous. The hourly folks had to be on constant parking enforcement watch. And, the place would clear out like a fire was happening if someone spotted a city parking authority vehicle. People would drive around the block until the vehicle was gone.

    And, somehow the managers were like “oh, yeah, they’re driving around for now” like people being away from their desks for 30+ minutes regularly because of parking was no big deal. How on earth they thought that was a better solution than just giving those folks parking is beyond comprehension.

    If you work somewhere that does something like this and are in a position to try to change it – please do something.

  70. inoffensive nickname*

    My boss told me that my goals as a manager should reflect overall department goals, and that I could add an additional personal goal if I wanted, but because everything went off the rails this year, goals weren’t met, etc. Our goals are to just keep doing our jobs and find a way to keep our departments running under next-to-impossible conditions. I am more than happy to share those with my crew. In fact, they need to know so that we’re all on the same page.

  71. DataQueen*

    I’m late to the party and totally agree with #1 setting boundaries, but I’m laughing because I do this to my boss all the time – I like to drive and so I’ll bring papers out to the suburbs and wait in my car for him to sign them. In theory it should take an hour, but he gets calls and email interruptions so sometimes it’s more like 2-3 hours. I’ll go get starbucks or return something at marshalls maybe, but then i sit in his driveway and work – i do my 1-1s with my staff on the phone, I answer emails… it’s super productive time because I can’t go anywhere. So neither of us mind it! But i could

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